Manawa: Campus B Indigenous Rights & History in Brazil (January 2021)

I attended the Campus B Indigenous Rights and History in Brazil virtual programme from the 12 January 2021 to the 22 January 2021. This programme was primarily online with one culinary workshop onsite at the University of Auckland. The programme was attended by students from New Zealand, Brazil and Canada. Students were put into three groups initially and tasked with a project on indigenous rights to discuss and present to the other students on the final day of the programme.

The programme consisted of various presentations from academic staff, technical experts and indigenous peoples from Brazil. The topics that were discussed throughout the presentations included the history of indigenous rights in Brazil, the impacts of colonisation, the evolution of indigenous rights, the social and political context in Brazil and some of the legal and contemporary challenges for indigenous peoples including the impacts of Covid19. The presentations were engaging and very informative. Students were given the opportunity to ask the presenters various questions. I took this opportunity and asked many questions. I found this helpful to gain a deeper understanding of the issues being discussed.

I also observed similarities between the situation for indigenous peoples in Brazil and some of the challenges for indigenous peoples in New Zealand. The skill that I developed and enhanced throughout the programme was a greater awareness of the particular needs of not only Māori but indigenous peoples more generally. For example, I took the opportunity to ask the presenters who were indigenous to discuss some of the main challenges they face and to describe some of the goals and aspirations they have for their specific communities and indigenous peoples as a whole in Brazil. This skill is not only relevant to my studies and specialisation in indigenous rights and international law, but this skill is also highly relevant to my career in law and policy. Having a greater understanding and awareness of indigenous peoples needs will allow me to make informed decisions and take opportunities to advocate for these needs when possible. Having a strong understanding of the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and its constitutional relevance in New Zealand I learnt how the history of indigenous peoples rights in Brazil has evolved very differently having no treaties forming the basis of colonisation.

I take away from the programme a greater awareness of the challenges that indigenous peoples face in Brazil and the importance of having a workable relationship between the State and it’s indigenous inhabitants. I am very grateful for the opportunity to learn about the history of indigenous rights in Brazil particularly having no previous understanding about Brazil or its indigenous inhabitants. I am also grateful that the programme was available online given the travel restrictions. Although it is more challenging to get to know peers in a virtual learning space the programme was still highly successful in learning outcomes and opportunities. I would highly recommend the programme to future and prospective students who have a passion for indigenous rights. I would recommend for prospective students who attend the programme to prepare questions to ask the presenters, the presenters many who are indigenous are primary sources of information.

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