Brazilian indigenous activist, environmentalist and politician Sônia Guajajara has become a part of TIME 100: The Most Influential People Of 2022. From her childhood, she fought forces that have been trying to eradicate her indigenous community’s roots. In 2018, she became the first indigenous woman to appear on a presidential ticket in Brazil.
A member of the leftist Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL), Sonia was initially a campaigner for the President of Brazil in the 2018 election. Chosen as the vice-presidential companion of nominee Guilherme Boulos, she made herself the first indigenous person to run for a federal executive position in Brazil.
Also holding a master’s degree in culture and society from the Institute of Humanities, Arts, and Culture at the Federal University of Bahia, Guajajara took up a variety of professions, including teaching and nursing.
Sonia Guajajara On 2022 TIME 100 List
“When you destroy nature and foreclose the indigenous peoples’ way of life, preventing them from exercising their culture, you are killing them. If we do not follow our culture, our tradition, we are no longer people,” she told Believe Earth, a program of the Alana Foundation, a global organization based in Brazil which seeks to reinforce socio-economic causes, build partnerships and co-create campaigns and awareness programs regarding the environment.
She serves as the coordinator of Brazil’s Indigenous People Articulation (APIB), Brazil’s indigenous movement that was born to strengthen the indigenous people’s unity and the articulation among the different regions and indigenous organizations in the country.
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Taking part and bringing to a broader audience the stories of her people in international fora, such as the UN Human Rights Council and the UN Climate Negotiations, Sonia’s contributions to the indigenous movement of Brazil earned her multiple recognitions.
“She has also brought national attention to the trampling of Indigenous rights during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sônia is an inspiration, not just for me, but for millions of Brazilians who dream of a country that settles its debts with its past and finally welcomes the future,” writes Guilherme Castro Boulos, Brazilian activist and coordinator at the Homeless Workers’ Movement of Brazil in the TIMES 100 column.