150+ Canadians Day 74: Mother Earth Water Walkers

Mother Earth Water Walkers contribute to peace in their active witness to all people’s dependency on clean water. #Canada150

“Traditional teachings and modern science combine to strengthen our historical understanding that Water is the life-blood of our Mother Earth. Indigenous women continue their role as protectors of the Water. …we must continually ask ourselves what we are leaving for a future seventh generation….It is our spiritual and cultural responsibility to protect our local lands and Waters in order to help protect the whole of Mother Earth.” Tribal and First Nations Great Lakes Water Accord, 2004

Ojibwa Grandmother Josephine Mandamin, an Anishnawbe elder originally from the Wikwemikong Unceded Reservation on Manitoulin Island in northern Ontario, was the founder of the Mother Earth Water Walk. She has walked more than 10,000 miles along the shores of rivers and lakes since 2003. Mandamin has collected pledges from more than 100 First Nations communities to support the First Nations Great Lake Water Accord.

The First Nations Great Lake Water Accord, signed at Sault. Ste. Marie, Michigan, November 23, 2004, states that the Tribes and First Nations of the Great Lakes Basin demand that ”our rights and sovereignty be respected, that that any governmental effort to protect and preserve the Waters of the great Lakes Basin include full participation by Tribes and First Nations, and we also hereby pledge that we share the interests and concerns about the future of the Great Lakes waters, further pledging to work together with each other and the with other governments in the Great Lakes Basin to secure a healthy future or the Great Lakes.”

Josephine Mandamin received the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Excellence in Conservation in 2016.

There is a water walk taking place in 2017! Visit Mother Earth Water Walkers website to learn more about this year’s route.

Image: Grandmother Josephine Mandamin leads the walk around Lake Monona. She blessed the waters of the lake and carried a bucket of lake water the entire distance around the lake as part of the water walk traditions. “I’ve been called here to respect her, to pray for her, to sing for her, give thanks to her,” Grandmother Josephine said, referring to Lake Monona. “Respect her in all that she is.”


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