CoDev's March/April 2018 Executive Director's Report

CoDev's March/April 2018 Executive Director's Report r1 ... CoDevelopment Canada Executive Director, Steve Stewart Hello Friends and Supporters of CoDev! Here’s what’s been happening this month.

March 11-13 – Honduras: Steve Stewart met with partners COPEMH (high school teachers) and PRICPHMA (Primary and early education teachers) in Tegucigalpa. We discussed the new project proposals for the Non-Sexist and Inclusive Pedagogy (PNSI) work, the possibilities for an exchange between the Honduran and Salvadoran NSIP trainers, and what we’ll need from them in the event that Global Affairs Canada (GAC) invites us to present a full proposal for our proposed Central American gender equity project. Steve also arranged a separate meeting with members of the National Executive Committees of the two partners to discuss the post-electoral fraud repression in Honduras and how their Canadian partners might best support them at this time of crisis. The partners spoke of the recent arbitrary firings of numerous leaders from the two teachers’ organizations and how this is proving to be an effective tactic to force them to focus energy and resources on defending their organization, rather than supporting the pro-democracy movement. They requested support from their Canadian partners for the legal costs, as well as in applying pressure on Honduran authorities to rescind the firings. We have begun discussions with their Canadian partners (BCTF, OSSTF, STA, ATA) over the best way to carry out the campaign. Our Honduran partners also agreed that CoDev is correct to support the Americas Policy Group’s focus on releasing Honduran political prisoners captured during the pro-democracy protests of December 2017 and January 2018.

Betsey Barrios, president of PRICPHMA & FOMCA Women's Secretary

March 14-15 – El Salvador: Steve met with the executive committee of Salvadoran partner ANDES 21 de Junio (teachers) to discuss concerns regarding the lack of continuity in the coordination of the NSIP project and held a separate meeting with ANDES’ new national women’s Secretary Gloria Roque to provide an orientation on the partnership. We also discussed the possibilities of increasing the size of the NSIP project if our regional gender equity proposal is accepted.

Steve also met in San Salvador with APSIES (rural community development and strengthening public health systems) coordinator Moises Garcia to discuss the organizations’ new 3-year proposal for CoDev and Canadian partners. APSIES proposes to extend its work, via its member municipal women’s committees, to at-risk rural youth. Youth in the communities where APSIES works often face the stark choice of either joining one of the two gangs that dominate much of the marginalized areas of the country, or take the dangerous migration to the North. APSIES proposes to accompany the youth in developing economic alternatives, while providing them with coping skills for resisting gang pressures.

March 16-26 – Guatemala: Steve met with CoDev’s partner the Guatemalan Women’s Sector to work with them to develop a 3-year proposal that would fit into the regional GAC gender equity submission. The revised proposal will focus on working with young women and adolescents to develop the tools needed to combat violence against women.

March 17-26: A 10-person CoDev delegation, consisting of members of the Hawthorne Foundation, the BCTF International Solidarity Committee, BC CASA and CoDev members travelled to Guatemala. The delegation spent its first few days in Cobán and Zacapa, where, with the support of the Hawthorne Foundation, our partner Artesana works with imprisoned men and women and their children. We visited a woman’s prison and a medium and a maximum security men’s prison, and met with the governor of the province of Zacapa to discuss prison conditions and ways to make family visits safer for the children of prisoners. In the Cobán men’s prison we were also able to meet with political prisoners from the Campesino Committee of the Highlands (CCDA), producers of Café Etico’s Guatemalan coffee.

The delegation returned to the capital where we met with feminist congresswoman and former CoDev partner Sandra Moran about her initiatives to protect girls who are victims of sexual violence, fight corruption within the state and to make violence and discrimination against the LGBTQ community a hate crime. On June 11, as part of our proposed “Guatemala Spring” series, CoDev is co-sponsoring in Vancouver an event with Sandra that includes the Canadian premiere of “Con Voz Propia,” (In Her Own Voice) about Sandra’s life as a guerrilla, human rights activist, feminist, and now congresswoman. For more information, visit the Facebook event We also spent a day with groups belonging to CoDev’s partner, the Guatemalan Women’s Sector where we learned of Mayan weaver’s struggle to protect their designs from expropriation by fashion companies, traditional mid-wives’ campaign for recognition, and the Sector’s new work to combat violence against women by training adolescents in psychological self-defense.

Before departing the capital, the delegation spent an evening with H.I.J.O.S., the children of the disappeared, to learn about their work to bring to justice the perpetrators of mass human rights violations during the country’s 36-year armed conflict. CoDev staff propose that CoDev co-sponsor as part of our “Guatemala Spring” series, an event in late June with H.I.J.O.S. member Paulo Estrada and the Film “Sin Miedo” (Without Fear) about a case taken by relatives of Guatemala’s disappeared (including CoDev’s own Wendy Santizo) to the Inter-American Human Rights Court.

The delegation also travelled to the territories of the CCDA where they stayed in bungalows at the Mayan social movement’s collective coffee mill overlooking spectacular Lake Atitlan. There they learned about the production of organic coffee and the amazing things the Mayan communities achieve when they are the motors of their own development process.

April 5-11 - CoDev hosted Daysi Marquez, coordinator of the Non-Sexist and Inclusive Pedagogy (NSIP) program of the Honduran High School Teachers College, partners of the BCTF and the Alberta and Surrey Teachers’ Associations. Daysi presented a workshop on NSIP at the STA’s “Reclaiming Common Ground: A Cross -border Social Justice Conference,” April 7, and presented an all-day workshop for BC teachers the following day. Daysi also travelled to Victoria for a public presentation, and CoDev staff organized a more informal evening meeting with Daysi for CoDev members

April 7 – at the United Association of Labour Educators North American conference in Seattle, Washington, Steve worked with our partners, the Federation of Colombian Educators (FECODE) and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) to present a workshop on FECODE’s “School as Territories of Peace” program. A number of the US unions were very interested in the CoDev model of facilitating international partnerships, as something similar doesn’t seem to exist there. CoDev staff are currently in discussions with FECODE’s Canadian partners to organize a cross-country tour late in the fiscal year FECODE’s “Peace Schools” program coordinator Jose Hidalgo Restrepo.

April 17-21 – CoDev hosted a visit from Berenice Celeita, Coordinator of our southwestern Colombia partner NOMADESC. Although Berenice came as a guest of the CUPE BC Annual Conference, we were also able to arrange for her to meet other NOMADESC Canadian partners, including executive and IS committee members of the BCGEU, and the Secretary Treasurer of the Canadian Association of Labour Lawyers. CoDev staff and board members also organized a special organizing event for Berenice with the local Colombian community. During the CUPE Conference, Berenice had the opportunity to meet briefly with Premier John Horgan and some members of his cabinet. Berenice was surprised and impressed at how many cabinet ministers she already knew (4), either from them having participated in CoDev delegations to Colombia, or having met her in previous visits we organized to Canada.

While Berenice was with us in Vancouver, Colombian authorities struck, arbitrarily detaining some 3 dozen elected leaders and human rights representatives in the communities with which NOMADESC works. CoDev staff worked with Berenice and CUPE IS Committee members and staff to create an urgent action in support of the detainees. If you haven’t already, please visit the CoDev website at to send your message to Colombian authorities.

Saturday, April 28, Steve met with the BCTF Aboriginal Education Advisory Committee to report on the Indigenous education seminars CoDev coordinated in February in Veracruz and Oaxaca, and to discuss further cooperation between the committee and Mexican indigenous teachers linked to the CNTE. This is part of CoDev strategy of expanding the number of committees we collaborate with within our Canadian partners.

As you are aware, CoDev was short staffed for most of the 17-18 fiscal year, so we were delighted when our new program assistant, Filiberto Celada, joined the CoDev team starting April 6. “Fili” hit the ground running, helping with interpretation for Daysi a t her workshops the weekend of the 7 and 8th of April, and accompanying her to the Victoria event. Fili has subtitled a number of video clips from Latin American partners to share with their Canadian counterparts. We’ve uploaded them to CoDev’s youtube channel. There, viewers can find messages and project descriptions from partners such as FECODE, NOMADESC, SINTRACUAVALLE, CODEMUH, SNTECD and APSIES. If you haven’t visited our channel yet, please check the videos out at: Note that we have placed some of the shorter ones on Youtube simply for facility of access for our Canadian partners, and they may lack the context for a broader audience. But if you see any you think would be of interest to your friends, or the general public, please share the links on your social media.

And last, but most tasty, Café Etico expanded its product line this month. You can now pick up a bottle of delicious fair trade Zatoun Palestinian olive oil and/or za’atar spice mix when you drop by for your bag of Café Etico. In addition to taking Café Etico one step closer to becoming a one stop outlet for all your favourite fair trade products, we expect that the Palestinian products will bring attract a new sector of customers who will come in for the olive oil, and leave with a bag of Etico as well.

And the final word: We’re looking forward to seeing you all at the CoDev Annual Solidarity and Fundraising Dinner on June 2! Please call Cindy or Jeffrey (604.708.1495) to purchase tickets or online here!

Hasta la proxima!


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