Dear friends,

As 2020 draws to a close, we would like to take a moment to reflect on our past year together.

With the beginning of the global pandemic in March, we had to adjust our work in Guatemala and explore how best to support our partners in the new COVID-19 reality.

One of our first steps was to pause our newly launched Cooperant Program and to ensure the safe return to Canada of our three Cooperants (Indigo Christ, Laura Robinson and Lenora Yarkie), who were in Guatemala at the time.

Photo: Xinka Parliament

We also fundraised and distributed over $26,000 in emergency funds in support of our Guatemalan partners who continued their vital human rights work in the face of the pandemic.

While the government failed to provide basic necessities for Guatemalans, our partners and people throughout the country stepped up to care for each other, in the spirit of mutual aid.

During the pandemic, we continued to maintain and strengthen our relationships with our six partner organizations: Highlands Committee of Small Farmers (CCDA); Mesoamerica Permaculture Institute (IMAP); Rabinal Legal Clinic; New Hope Foundation; Xinka Parliament and the Diocesan Commission for the Defense of Nature (CODIDENA). This included regular calls where network members had the opportunity to hear from them directly about the situation in Guatemala.

In the Maritimes, we found new ways to come together, while keeping each other safe. As a network, we held our first ever physically distanced events, including our Annual Fundraising Boat Cruise in August and Annual Gathering in October. We were joined virtually by Emy Gomez, General Coordinator of the Xinka Parliament, who spoke to us about their ongoing struggle for free, prior and informed consent around the Escobal mine.

Throughout 2020, BTS staff, the Community Council and committee members throughout the Maritimes turned to zoom to stay connected.

Photo: BTS PEI Committee

During this time, we were able to also focus on strengthening the network, including updating our mission statement and engaging in strategic planning for our work for the coming years. We also brought a consultant onboard to support us in fostering an anti-oppressive culture within the network.

Thanks to you, we have a resilient network and relationships that can weather times of crisis, and we can find joy and solidarity in each other.

As we write this, communities in Guatemala are working to recover from two major hurricanes and calling for political change, in the midst of ongoing government corruption. In the Maritimes, we continue to see the federal government and settlers fishermen failing to respect the Mi’kmaq treaty right to fish.

We know that these are part of the same struggle for justice, and we continue to foster bridges between the Maritimes and Guatemala.

As we look to 2021, we’re thinking about what we have to look forward to, including the launch of our new website on January 28th! We invite you to stay tuned for more details.

Happy holidays!

Stacey Gomez
BTS Maritimes Coordinator

Lisa Rankin
BTS Guatemala Coordinator

Este Chep
BTS Lead Cooperant