Mayan Traditional Justice Knowledge Exchange

At JES, we believe that honouring the traditional systems of Indigenous peoples can alleviate the harmful impacts of colonization, strengthen the capacity of Indigenous peoples to access culturally relevant justice, and support the sovereignty of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

In 2008, JES created a unique project that brought together Indigenous peoples in northern British Columbia with Mayan communities in Guatemala, so that the two groups could share their traditional approaches to justice within their own geographics and cultural contexts.

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September 2008 - June 2010

JES partnered with the Northern Native Public Legal Education Committee and La Defensoría Maya to bring this vision to life. We arranged for a Mayan delegation to visit Indigenous communities in northern British Columbia for two weeks, followed by a two-week visit from the Indigenous delegation to Maya communities in the four regional departments of Huehuetenango, El Quiché, Sololá, and Baja Verapaz.

Through this reciprocal knowledge exchange, the two groups deepened their understanding of culturally appropriate, restorative justice models outside of their own communities. After their visits, both delegations developed educational resources for Indigenous and Mayan youth in their home communities that promoted awareness of their traditional justice practices.

  • Established formal relationship between Mayan community justice organizations and their Indigenous counterparts in Canada 
  • Increased awareness and understanding of each community’s approaches to traditional justice and their social, cultural, political, and economic context
  • Educational resources developed by Indigenous and Mayan youth in their home communities to promote awareness of their traditional justice practices