26-27 March 2018, Belmopan, BELIZE - As contextual challenges and opportunities for Belize’s indigenous peoples (IPs) continue to emerge and change, SGP organized a workshop to evaluate the functionality of the Belize National Indigenous Council (BENIC).
BENIC was established in 1998 as the focal institution to represent IP collective rights on national and international policy issues that affect the four indigenous linguistic communities of Belize. Namely, these groups are the Garifuna, the Mopan Maya, the Q’eqchi’ Maya and the Yucatec Maya. Whilst its recent revitalization on December 3, 2017, members agreed that there is an urgent need to reflect on BENIC’s past achievements, identify the relevant best practices to best serve IPs in today’s context and develop a strategic plan of how to go forward. This two-day workshop was the first stepping stone toward achieving this long-term goal.
Representatives from the Garifuna, Mopan, Yucatec and Q’eqchi’ indigenous groups participated in the 2-day workshop. Specifically, these included the (i.) National Garifuna Council, (ii.) Inno’on – La Oh student group at the University of Belize, (iii.) Maya Leaders Alliance, (iv.) Northern Maya Association of Belize, (v.) U’kuxtal Masewal, (vi.) Julian Cho Society and (vii.) Western Maya.
Workshop discussion points included (i.) improvements of the BENIC's functionality; (ii.) evaluation of BENIC’s membership and governance structure and key re-structuring components to consider; (iii.) current challenges faced by Belize’s IPs; and (iv.) aspirations of IP community and BENIC's role in its realization.
Workshop outcomes included (i.) BENIC's new membership and governance structure; (ii.) BENIC's draft vision and mission; (iii.) immediate action points towards the workplan development; (iv.) collaboration with SGP and the Belize Enterprise for Sustainable Technology, the National Catalytic Organization responsible for spearheading the ICCA-GSI projects in Belize.
To view the workshop report, please click here