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Historic Agreement Signed Between NWAC and Eight Central American Nations

"It is extremely powerful when Indigenous Peoples unite."

Lynne Groulx, NWAC CEO

OTTAWA, May 31, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- During an eight-day visit to El Salvador last week, Native Women's Association of Canada's (NWAC) CEO Lynne Groulx signed a ground-breaking Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between NWAC and the General Secretariat of the Central American Integration System (SG-SICA). In doing so, Ms. Groulx has advanced international relationships that will benefit Indigenous Peoples by supporting cultural and economic exchange across the Americas.

"We broke important barriers. We haven't been talking enough as Indigenous Peoples across the national boundaries established through colonization. It is extremely powerful when Indigenous Peoples unite," Ms. Groulx said, commenting on the momentous outcomes of this Indigenous diplomatic mission.

The landmark MOU focuses on Indigenous priorities championed by NWAC such as women's empowerment, economic justice, opportunities for trade and economic sustainability, and conservation and balance with nature.

To achieve these goals, the agreement acknowledges the need to promote and strengthen cooperative relations between Canada and the Central American Integration System (SICA).

An agreement of this magnitude opens doors, fast-tracking NWAC's ability to implement the priorities set out in the agreement, which will have far reaching benefits for Indigenous women, girls, Two-Spirit, transgender, and gender-diverse+ (WG2STGD+) peoples across the Americas.

More than 60 different groups, approximately 20-percent of the total population of Central America, make up the Indigenous Peoples represented within the SICA's eight member states: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and the Dominican Republic.

The SICA is a governance body composed of the presidents of each of the member nations, that aspires to integrate Central America as a region focused on peace, freedom, democracy, and development. Ms. Groulx will begin taking action to implement the terms of the MOU with visits to each of the SICA member countries.

Along with signing the historic MOU, the broader objective of Ms. Groulx's trip to El Salvador was to build relationships big and small. While there, Ms. Groulx was invited to meet with El Salvador Vice-President Felix Ulloa to discuss trade between Indigenous Peoples, expanding business opportunities and building cultural exchanges.

As well, Ms. Groulx developed new relationships with local Indigenous women artists, artisans, and entrepreneurs, returning home with spectacular artwork and textiles for NWAC's Sisters in Spirit America's Collection. She also met with the Women in Coffee Association of El Salvador (AMCES) and the Salvadorian Coffee Council (CSC). This chance to exchange knowledge and explore trade relationships comes at an opportune time, as NWAC is on the cusp of releasing its own coffee line, with all profits going back to supporting NWAC's programs for Indigenous WG2STGD+ people.

Reflecting on the international relationships NWAC is cultivating, Ms. Groulx notes that this is a renewal of Indigenous relationships that were previously the norm across the Americas. "There is an Inca prophecy that tells us that ?When the Eagle of the North flies with the Condor of the South, the spirit of the land she will re-awaken,'" says Ms. Groulx, "and Indigenous Peoples have been envisioning ? and awaiting - this resurgence for a long time."

Ms. Groulx was accompanied on this Indigenous diplomatic mission to El Salvador by Salvadorian Ambassador Ricardo Cisneros and Ms. Tania Molina, NWAC's International Director. The successful outcomes are the result of a year of international relationship building that continues to position NWAC as a leading voice advocating for Indigenous rights and well-being on an international stage.

For information, or to arrange an interview, contact: Roselie LeBlanc at [email protected] or 604-928-3233.

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