Mayan corn connection in Chilliwack

An example of some of the fashions on display at the Maya Corn Connection event April 26. - Submitted
An example of some of the fashions on display at the Maya Corn Connection event April 26.
— image credit: Submitted

A cultural fashion show held at St. Thomas Anglican Church April 26 aims to broaden our knowledge and appreciation for Mayan culture.

The Maya Corn Connection program is all about multiculturalism. Organizers hope locals get involved and attend this event to help build bridges between Canada and the cultures of the Mayan region.

Although the Mayan region is known world-wide for impressive pyramids, less well-known is that the descendants of the Maya are alive today in rural South American communities. In fact, there are thousands of Canadians who were born in the Mayan region living and working in British Columbia today.

There is an indigenous women’s co-operative, “Heart of the Woman” working in Chimaltenango, Guatemala who have recently joined the Maya Corn Connection. These 13 female artisans produce beautiful scarves, shawls, shoulder bags and other items using the traditional Mayan technique of waist-weaving.

Cultural genocide has been a horrendous fact of life in the Mayan region for centuries. Massacres of indigenous populations and those who support them have extended into the late 20th century. Even today these rural indigenous populations are marginalized and struggle to survive.

Another dimension is the oppression of women. Women in the rural regions are essentially invisible; they have no voice in their communities.

These social justice issues make it extremely difficult for single women to succeed, but with the strength of their newly honed skills and their connections to markets in Canada afforded by Maya Corn Connection, groups like Mujeres Emprendedoras de Tejutla, the seamstresses of Manos Creativas and Azul Nonualco are now selling their clothes in Canada. They have hope.

It is well known that the Anglican Church is at the forefront of social justice issues world-wide and the work of Maya Corn Connection is, at its root, concerned with social justice for the women and young people in the Mayan region. Maria Ester McPherson (executive director, Maya Corn Connection) and her husband are members of All Saints Anglican Church in Agassiz. All Saints provided the venue and support for the first Mayan Cultural Fashion Show in 2013. Now other parishes, including St. Thomas, are opening their doors and their hearts to embrace this “fashionable cause.”

• Enjoy an evening of traditional dance by Grupo Nahualli from Lower Mainland, fashion show, wine and a delicious Mexican dinner by Fiesta Loca of Sardis at St. Thomas Anglican Church, 46048 Gore Ave (on First Ave), Sat. April 26, from 6 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $45 each and can be purchased at the church office between 9 a.m. and noon; reserve your seats on Facebook by visiting mayacornconnection; by email at mayacorn@telus.net; or phone 604-819-7982.

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