Gchi Miigwech to our life waters and all of our relatives; the mosquito blankets and butterflies, moose, deer, eagles, ravens, herons, bears and standing ones. All who supported the first annual water walk in 2019. We want to express our gratitude to Deina Bomberry and John Rice for all of your generous guidance, support and laughter and sharing our life ceremonies, teachings, and creation stories. We thank all of those that supported from a distance, those who were able to gather for sunrise and an incredible circle of family and dear ones who were able to spend the two days walking, driving, singing, praying, snacking and supporting. We created the page #Wedoitforthewater to uplift and honour all of our grandmothers, aunties, sisters and youth leaders uplifting and moving our waters forward. We give thanks for the collective movement that I understand our dreams and visions to be a part of and related to. Please scroll to the end of this message for some photos to share. I am sorry I don't have many pictures but I hope this gives you a reflection and window into the spirit of our water walk.
JOIN TOGETHER FISH HATCHERY (LOCATION WILL BE CONFIRMED AND UPDATED IN THE EVENING)
Skeleton Lake serves as powerful metaphor and reminder that we are all water bodies. We can see the message ripple, water is life and all of our life waters are sacred. It’s a simple fact that our bodies are formed with the same amount of water as Ake Kwe, Mother Earth, reflecting our unity and interdependency with all of life and ultimately our responsibility and interconnection in daily decisions and actions. We walk together and lift our hands and hearts in gratitude to all water protectors, walkers and warriors: big-hearted ones - all community leaders and change makers - all ages - all Nations.
We give thanks and lift up all who have led and have come together to bring community awareness and education to protect the waters and surrounding ecosystems against the ongoing threat of the proposed Lippa Pit and Quarry that would have profound, compounding impact beyond what we can see and measure today. Please visit Skeleton Lake Cottagers Association and STOP MUSKOKA PIT for detailed and up to date information. All generations are working hard to call responsibility and connection to the global - local, between the impact of what might seem like small local decisions, to the wellbeing of all life - from a few kilometres to surrounding communities, Mother Earth and beyond what we can see. Recent reports have brought forward youth from around the world calling for action, and with it comes both fear and further denial and opposition, and it will take wise leadership to move us forward. We recognize the councils and community in Muskoka Lakes and Huntsville for their leadership and support to keep our waters and airways clean and clear. We don't want to lose the framing, whether we use climate change or clean air and water, or futurology and thriving, we understand where we come from, our responsibilities and the natural spirit of reciprocity that intrinsically moves us to further life.
UN Report: Nature's Dangerous Decline National Centre for Climate Restoration - UN Sustainability Goals “The overwhelming evidence of the IPBES Global Assessment, from a wide range of different fields of knowledge, presents an ominous picture,” said IPBES Chair, Sir Robert Watson. “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”
“The Report also tells us that it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global,” he said. “Through ‘transformative change’, nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably – this is also key to meeting most other global goals. By transformative change, we mean a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.”
We honour the life, example and teachings of Grandmother Josephine Mandamin, and all of those who have and continue to gather for the water. In Joanne Robertson's book, The Water Walker, sharing Mandamin's life story and message, we are invited to answer one of the most important questions of today, "what will you do for the water?"
In a past interview with Jennifer Ashawasegai we are left with an important reminder to hold water beyond the environmental - physical aspect, and to hold the inherent spiritual and cultural aspects. “Everything that we do is spiritual... and it’s [the walk] about the water that we carry that is very special. So, we have to keep the water in mind first when we walk.” Mandamin also advised that bodies of water must be given their original Indigenous names back - and that the original names are embedded with instructions for water, and how it’s supposed to work. She shared that while she was walking throughout North America, she was ‘collecting consciousness. “Collecting consciousness is not easy to explain. But when we are walking with the water, we are also collecting thoughts with that water. And in the collecting of thoughts, we are also collecting consciousness of people’s minds. The minds, hopefully, will be of one, sometime.”
Water reflects our natural capacity to unite in the collective good mind. We recognize past, present and future generations of these lands and waters, and honour and respect the ancestors as models of true sustainability - regenerativity and resiliency, and hold up the responsibility that we are all Treaty People today. There are many traditional place names and stories across the Muskoka Lakes region that have been cut off from common knowledge and remain in research and reports. In volume 2 of the Traditional Land use study and archaelological survey published from the District of Muskoka and the Wahta Mohawks in 1992, Skeleton Lake is referenced as ‘Flying Skeleton’ - Paukuh Sawgihayguning. We know there to be many more stories, teachings and cultural heritage - significance to Skeleton Lake that are beneath the waters of our consciousness.
2019 marks the UN Year for Indigenous Languages, with this month of June nationally recognized to celebrate Indigenous history. The vision of this annual water walk is a prayer of love and protection for all of our water ways, our ecosystems and planet, and to further celebrate and bring awareness and responsibilities with water, together with the traditional place names into the heart of homes, cottagers, schools and community. A foundational aspect of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is a call to right relationship and this first begins with all of life - land and waters. The first walk is held on Canada Day long weekend to also follow the maple leaf and look to the identity of Canada with her waters and our original passageways that connect all of life. We give thanks to all beings who care for and protect our lands and waters today and honour the First Peoples and our ancestors, in centralizing in our hearts and minds that Skeleton Lake sits within the Robinson-Huron Treaty and Williams Treaty and is the traditional lands of the Anishinabeeg. And living together today with Haudenasaunne, Metis and Inuit and human beings settled from all four directions.
Miigwetch - thank you for your patience. Over the next two weeks, we will update our maps, routes, and provide select safe areas for community to join in over shorter distances. If you are interested to volunteer or be more involved to support in any way or need more information please contact us.