What a privilege it was to have a Saskatchewan Learning Tour visit Mexico in March. It had been a desire of ours since we came to Chiapas – to share our journey, learnings and experience with others from our home province. The diverse group brought a lot of energy and desire to learn, especially in relation to agricultural pracitces and indigenous rights.
Having two members of the Cree First Nations stimulated good conversations about the similarities, differences and challenges both Mexico and Canada face in constructing peace and justice for marginalized peoples. Our days in Mexico City (aka D.F.) created their own excitement of riding the metro, learning about mexican history and understanding the dynamics and challenges around migration/regufees in this vast country.
The week in Chiapas concentrated on the beauty, history and complexity of present-day struggles of Indigenous life, marked by a trip to Acteal .
The group stayed at INESIN for a few days allowing for time to understand the work there and the social/relgious/political/economic culture of Chiapas. And of course we had time to get to know other important things about San Cris…like where to get the best icecream.
Some time was also given to visit Ezra´s school, a Mayan indigenous autonomous university, and the Mayan Medicine Museum. We were thankful for the interest the group took in our kids, and vice versa!
As well, another two day trip to a mountainous coffee-growing community, where Rick has worked over these past years, provided a pratical look at life in the campo and a chance to learn a bit more about .
Members of the group included Erica Baerwald (former Bethany student!), Kaytee Edwards (both MCC Sask workers), Miriam, Clemintine, and our family (MCC Mexico service workers), and 9 others from various churches/communities of Saskatchewan – Jean Cassidy, Harry and Kathy Harder (Miriam´s parents), Irene Jantzen, Bonnie Leask, Myrna Remple, Brian and Delilah Roth, Milton Tootoosis.
While some stomach issues plauged the group here and there, they took it all in stride, and we departed having learned much from each other and having developed new friendships along the way. Thankful especially for the time I (Jacquie) was able to spend with our collegue Clementine, visiting together as we helped to tour the others around!