Meet Jose Zarate I am a Quechua from Peru, adopted by the Nisga’a Nation B.C. into the Killer Whaler Clan and presented with an Eagle Feather by the Mi’kmaq Nation from Nova Scotia. For the last 30 years I have been involved in designing, managing, monitoring and evaluating community projects, including initiatives that promote women’s and youth empowerment, Indigenous languages and cultural revitalization, promotion and preservation of traditional knowledge, health and wellness and creation of think tanks. My long-standing, demonstrated and strong commitment to work with Indigenous peoples has been aimed towards their self-determination. The success of my work with Indigenous communities is ensured because it is based on the core principles of trust, mutual respect and Indigenous participation in decision-making. I am extremely active in promoting collaboration between Indigenous groups in Canada and the Americas, including my recent role as a facilitator for the partnership between the First Nations Adult and Higher Education Consortium (FNAHEC) owned by Indigenous colleges from Alberta, and the Quechua from Cusco, Peru. This partnership produced a successful bid to host the WIPCE (World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education) in August 2011 in Cusco, Peru. In addition, I fostered a partnership between the Mi’kmaq College Institute of the Cape Breton University from Nova Scotia with the Quechua communities in Cusco, Peru in 2008. Among the initiatives in Canada, I can highlight the one in the Northwest Territories where I supported the Tlicho nation in developing the “Trails of our Ancestors” program that brought Elders and youth together to travel the canoe trails, thousands of years old, so that the language, culture and way of life can be passed on to the next generation. Likewise, my direct involvement with Kanien’kehaka Onkwawén:na Raotitiohkwa Language and Cultural Centre (KORLCC) in Quebec that has been able to reverse the loss of their Mohawk language by implementing policies and strategies aimed at propagating the teaching, learning and preservation of their language at all school levels and social sectors within their Kahnawake community.
I have maintained my active involvement with the academic community as Adjunct Professor and course instructor in First Nations Studies/International Development Studies at the University of Northern British Columbia. Several years ago, I created the Information Network of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas (INIPA) which published at the time several informative issues in newspaper format. I continue as an Editorial Board Member of the Natives Americas, Journal of Indigenous Issues at Cornell University. Lastly, as current member of the Board of Trustees of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian I foster awareness and support to Indigenous peoples rights through programs focus on the preservation, study and exhibition of the life, languages, literature, history and arts of Indigenous peoples of the Americas. This vast network with Indigenous leaders and educators throughout the globe has allowed me to promote youth exchange, internship and mentorship initiatives. Finally, key aspects of my research in my doctoral thesis (based on the premise that “cultural retention and survival of Indigenous (traditional) knowledge in agriculture, promotion of self-sufficiency and sustainability are feasible”) have nurtured and enhanced my professional life. I studied an alternative development model with community-building capacity (e.g. bringing together traditionalists, non-traditionalists and diverse segments of the Six Nations community), holistic approach (e.g. the development and distribution of Indigenous food products as a means of identifying valuable cultural, educational and training opportunities) and harnessing proven traditional principles with useful contemporary knowledge. At the end of my direct involvement in the project the local community increased their awareness of their food contribution to the world and more families work their lands using the traditional farming system (the three sisters: beans, squash and corn)..
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