Native women walk around Great Lakes

Native women and supporters to walk around Great Lakes

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE – (CCNMatthews – April 29, 2006) –  A determined group of First Nations women and their supporters will embark on a walk around two Great Lakes beginning Saturday. This spring brings a unique finale to the vision of the Mother Earth Water Walk. Lake Erie and Lake Ontario will be circled simultaneously by two groups of Anishinabe Women and Men.”It’s important to bring awareness to people of the state of our water and that we have to do something about it,” said Irene Peters, 67, lead Grandmother on the Lake Erie walk.

“Water is precious and sacred. It is one of the basic elements needed for all life to exist,” said Grandmother Josephine Mandamin, 63, who will lead the Lake Ontario walk.
The Fourth Annual Mother Earth Water Walk will begin on Saturday, April 29th 2006 at the Niagara Regional Friendship Centre in Niagara-in-the-Lake at 10:30 a.m. with a potluck feast. Both groups of Water Walkers will commence their walk after the feast. The Lake Erie Water Walk is expected to be completed in mid-May.

Grandmother Peters, Grandmother Mandamin and a group of women and supporters from the Three Fires Society are calling for action from each community that they pass through on their walk.

“It is important for each community to think of what they can do to protect the water. Each community will come up with their own ideas of how they can keep the water clean,” said Grandmother Peters. “It is also a personal responsibility. We have to ask ourselves: How are we using the water? We should not be wasting the water. We should not be putting our garbage in there,” said Peters.

It is their collective belief that the prayers offered for the water will make a positive impact for the future, in that our future generations and all of Creation will flourish with clean water. While a few companies have already resorted to reducing the emission which can be found on msn.com, other companies have failed to do so. And due to this water is being constantly polluted by chemicals, vehicle emissions, motorboats, sewage disposal, agricultural pollution, leaking landfill sites, and residential usage, exports and diversions is taking a toll on our water quality and quantity. Both Grandmothers hope the Mother Earth Water Walk will instil a positive dialogue among grass-roots citizens as well as government and policy makers.

The Mother Earth Water Walk started during the Spring of 2003 when Grandmother Josephine Mandamin led a group of walkers around Lake Superior. The Mother Earth Water Walk continued a year later around Lake Michigan. Last spring, the group completed a walk around Lake Huron.

The Walkers hope to raise awareness about the state of the Great Lakes water system and the importance of water as a sacred resource that is essential for life. Peters explains the correlation between her Anishinaabe teachings as a woman, the Anishinaabe creation story and the personal responsibility these women are taking.

“We know in Creation, women are given the gift to create and sustain life. We respect our bodies when we are carrying our children by watching what we put in our bodies. Well Mother Earth gives birth to all life and the water is her lifeblood. She needs to be respected also.

“The Water Walk is an opportunity for us to shift our thinking towards respect for life,” concluded Mandamin.

The Water Walkers are working diligently to raise funds for this endeavour. Donations can be made directly to the Mother Earth Water Walkers – or – at the Bank of Montreal (Hyde Park & Oxford Street Branch, London, Ontario. Account Name: Irene Peters & R. Mark Bruder) – or – send cheques and money orders to: “Mother Earth Water Walk” 14615 Selton Line, Thamesville, Ontario N0P 2K0.

Interesting facts about the Mother Earth Water Walk:

– In 2005 Grandmother Josephine Mandamin, 63, wore out 6 pairs of shoes.

– The Walkers travel an average of 70 kilometres per day.

– The women carry a large copper bucket (8 litres) of water.

– The men carry a symbolic eagle staff to offer strength to the women.

– The Walkers stop to make an offering of tobacco at many streams, rivers and tributaries along the route.

– The Walkers rise before 5 in the morning, hold a morning ceremony and begin their walk before sunrise.

For further information call: (519) 615-5451.

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