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Jun 23, 2014

Gathering of the Children of the Earth – thousands converge on Indian Creek

A mass congregation of approximately two thousand men, women and children, primarily of Maya descent, converged on the primary school compound in the village of Indian Creek on Sunday for what was being called The Gathering of Children of the Earth.  The meeting at that venue was the second largest since June 2010, when Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh handed down a landmark decision reaffirming Maya customary land rights.  The event, organized by the Toledo Alcaldes Association and the Maya Leaders Alliance, saw the participation of various organizations, including the Belize Grass Roots Youth Empowerment Association, BGYEA.  The forum was used as a day of prayer and cultural presentations, but most importantly as a means of updating the assembly on the issue of land rights.  Under the theme, “Our Land, Our Lives, Our Struggle – Asserting our rights; strengthening our governance” the event was held on the backdrop of the recent Supreme Court decision reaffirming customary land rights.  While that judgment has been interpreted differently by all parties involved in the claim, organizers felt the need to reconvene with the wider community to ensure that they are all on the same page as it regards the use of customary land.  This afternoon, News Five spoke by phone with MLA spokesperson Cristina Coc.

 

Cristina Coc

Via Phone: Cristina Coc, Spokesperson, Maya Leaders Alliance

“Buses from all thirty-eight Mayan communities began pouring into Indian Creek Village, the village that was hosting the event called The Gathering of the Children of the Earth.  In our language we call that ‘Se Komonil re jeb Ralchoch sa li kale bal Indian Creek Ix Komonil muchtal tijo Mejentzil ix caj Indian Creek’ and the reason that we were able to gather on that day was in order to highlight another historical step in our struggle as Maya people.  We have long survived as a Maya people on the lands and the resources that we depend on a as a part of our livelihood and we have long struggled for recognition and respect of our unique and integral connection to the land that we live on.  And so, on Sunday we thought that it was important to once again come together as a community, as a Maya community to celebrate our struggle, celebrate our lives, celebrate our wellbeing as a Maya people and recognize that regardless of the circumstances, regardless of the times that we are in that together as a Maya people we will continue to stand united and united not just physically but united in our convictions to stand our right to life, our right to a just society.  The message on that day was simple really.  What is it that we’re fighting for, remembering what this movement is about and it’s quite simple, it is, we are fighting as a Maya people because we’re not satisfied with the way that we are treated, with the way that we are regarded in the society.  We feel that there are quite a few instances that we’ve faced and over the last few months those injustices just escalated and whether that be our communities struggling with an oil company coming onto their lands without any, any regard for the people that live there.  There were many people at the Gathering of the Children of the Earth event yesterday.  We saw many new faces, people from Belize City, friends, supporters, community activists.  We had people like Mose Hyde, we had people from BGYEA, we had people from Dangriga and other people who came in their private vehicles.  The Maya Center Dance Group they entertained beautifully, and these are new faces outside of Toledo and outside of the Mayan communities, as well and we welcome them because we recognize that it is only in solidarity can we move forward united as a people against the injustices that we face.  Key speakers at this event was Imani Fairweather.  Mrs. Imani is from the Oak Foundation, she has been a longtime supporter of community activism and the Mayan communities in particular and has forged a genuine and new relationship with the Toledo Alcaldes Association.  So it was important to have her meet and see the alcaldes themselves, the traditional leaders themselves and the communities that they represent.  We also had the honor to hear from Louis Wade Jr., who not only is a TV host and has been known for that, but really is a person who always stood on the right side, has always defended being on the right side, knowing right from wrong and just in light of the way that we organize as a Maya people we have never forgotten our spirituality.  All of us here in Toledo have a strong connection in terms of our spirituality with the land.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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