Voices of Youth Inspire! " I should never lose the love for my people, my land, and my culture"
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Please, tell us your name:
Where are you originally from and where do you live?
I was born in the indigenous Zapotec community called San Juan Jaltepec from the Santiago Yaveo municipality of Oaxaca.
What are you currently doing for work?
Indigenous youth and childhood commission for the Indigenous Women organization for CIARENA AC. We promote the articulation of the indigenous youth network of Central America and Mexico; I am part of the Alliance of Indigenous Women and currently the focal point for the Global Caucus of Latin America for Indigenous Youth.
I coordinate the School of Developers and Advocates Indigenous Youth BEN' COBBY VI BANEZI “Mirna Cunningham.”
And how do you compare this with what you wanted to do when you were 10 years old?
When I was 10 years old I accompanied my parents to their meetings in various villages, and people from diverse communities came to my house to look for help and advice. I had the opportunity to listen to life stories, testimonies and life experiences of people who belong to an indigenous community. I could coexist with children my age even though we were all indigenous, and we all had lived other contexts and realities. All of these experiences are what have shaped me as a person.
Give us 10 words that describe your typical work day.
In a nutshell, how did you get where you are now? Name some of the most important milestones.
My family has played a fundamental role in my training. From childhood they always told me that I had to feel proud coming from an indigenous village and being Zapotecan. They told me that I should never have to be quiet in the face of an injustice, that I should never lose the love for my people, my land, and my culture. The most important milestones in my life have been marked by the distinct movements of indigenous villages, the coexistence of a large trajectory of indigenous leaders, and seeing and knowing the struggle for the criminalization rights through the recognition of the indigenous people.
When I was very young, I was invited to be part of an organization of Indigenous Women (Indigenous Women by Ciarena) who to date have supported me in the work I do. Through the organization, we have been involved with work with indigenous children, women, and youth.
Thanks to the work that we implemented within the community we have been able to promote other indigenous people networks at the Latin American level so that we have coordinated a manner to carry our voices to other spheres of influence.
What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome to get your current position and how did it help you grow as a person?
There remains problematic forms of discrimination and racism that still exists in our societies which threatens the construction of our identity. The stereotypes that society has in relation to indigenous peoples are wrong. It is thought to that “young indigenous” is synonymous to primitive or backwards but we have the right to access the new, such as information technology for example.
Centralizing spaces incidence and decision making remain difficult to visualize our demand as indigenous peoples, which are based on collective processes.
The lack of recognition of our individual and collective human rights as indigenous peoples hinders the full enjoyment of our rights as indigenous adolescents and women.
How important was your choice of degree/field of study at university for what you're doing now?
In my study I was struck by the degree in Hydrobiology, which was already important for me to be able to support indigenous communities who have established themselves next to river banks and oceans. I thought that it was necessary to be able to help these towns where the water also is privatizing. However, the fact that one has had the opportunity to acquire tools in the denominated “formal education,” does not mean that such knowledge is above the traditional and ancestral knowledge of our people. The knowledge acquired in school can serve as a tool that can be combined with the traditional knowledge, provided they are for your benefit and not for harm.
What are the top three things someone needs to excel in your
Self-identify as part of indigenous people
To know that you form part of the collective process and that you are only the “spokesman” and not the leader
Never lose vision nor the compromise and respect for the indigenous peoples
What do you think is the MOST important thing governments and/or companies can do to help adolescents and especially young women in indigenous communities?
Acting in accordance with the provisions of international conventions and treaties on the rights of indigenous people such as the ILO Convention 169 and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the indigenous peoples.
Respect the right of the consultation of indigenous peoples as well as the Free Consent Principle, Free and Informed.
Generate full and effective participation spaces for indigenous
women and youth public policies and programs, and the monitoring,
implementation and execution of the same.
Abandon implementing development models that violate our
traditional organizational form that we have as a people. These
models have forced displacement of peoples, mostly the indigenous
Stop the various forms of violence committed against indigenous peoples such as militarization, genocide, ecocide, among others.
Tell us about the strangest day you've ever had at work or the strangest thing you had to do?
One day when I was told that my mother had been the victim of an attack by my younger brother.
Some words to youth out there: What advice can you give adolescents in Latin America and the world?
We must not lose hope. We have to be young with memories and stories. We must not be quiet in the face of an injustice. We return that value of the “Word” the word, the word that our people have a meaning and that many already have forgotten. It is worth crying or being sad, angry, or screaming in Latin America because we transform these sentiments into energy to keep working collectively to continue transforming this world. We turn to see the other side and raise our heads up. We respect our indigenous people, worthy representatives of ancient cultures and millennials.