PBI-Guatemala volunteer testimony: Mélisande Séguin
My name is Mélisande Séguin. I am from Canada, I am a lawyer and a PhD candidate in political science. I work on issues such as indigenous women’s resistance to extractivism, legal pluralism, indigenous legal traditions and the decolonization of knowledge. I have a strong commitment to human rights and dedicate my life to learning and unlearning ways to decolonize my thoughts, my practices and my daily life.
I have been a member of the Committee of Peace Brigades International since February 2021. Before joining the committee, I was a volunteer with the PBI fi eld team between 2015 and 2016. After returning to Canada in 2016, I participated as a volunteer, board member, project manager and coordinator of the Quebec Guatemala Accompaniment Project, an organization which has been accompanying human rights defenders in Guatemala since 1995.
I became familiar with the work of the GP committee when I was part of the team on the ground in 2015 and it has been a great pleasure to be able to work with its members again over the past year. The commitment, knowledge and dedication of this team of volunteers is impressive and I have a lot to learn from my colleagues on both a human and professional level. In this last year, I have been able to reacquaint myself with PBI’s ways of doing things.
The committee is involved at various levels of PBI: with the team of volunteers in the field, providing accompaniment in the decisions they make regarding the functioning of the team and the accompaniment of human rights defenders in Guatemala; supporting the office in Guatemala with training, communication, advocacy and administration tasks; providing advice on advocacy, coordination and administration issues to the coordination office in Spain; and finally, within the larger international structure where the committee participates or supports decisions related to the functioning of the global organization.
PBI works horizontally and by consensus. Therefore, the committee team is committed to participating in the decision making process of all these sections of the organization through constant communication.
Given that the committee members live in different parts of Europe and America, and that the pandemic has greatly reduced face-to-face meetings, most of the exchanges have been virtual. This has been challenging, but at the same time it has made us more resilient and has allowed us to improve our communication channels. We hope that it will be useful in the future and in the constant work of solidarity with the people and organizations we accompany.
Mélisande’s testimony is from the PBI-Guatemala Project 2021 annual report. To read the full report, click here.