Shoulder to Shoulder at the All Nations Water Ceremony
By Waasekom – Photos by Fred Cattroll
Indigenous people from all over Canada and the United States gathered at Site 41 atop the world’s purest documented water to support the growing effort to once again protect the Alliston Aquifer.
The Friends of the Waverley Uplands co-hosted the All Nations Water Ceremony to draw inspiration and strength from the success of Site 41. The proposed expansion of the Teedon Pit and renewal of the permit to take up to 6.8 million litres of water a day for 10 years from Dufferin Aggregates is the newest Call to Action to protect the World’s Purest Waters.
Local residents Pete and Jenny Anderson affected by the aggregate mining on the Waverley Uplands, provided a statement on behalf of their group. “The Friends of the Waverley Uplands are committed to the protection of the Allston Aquifer. We remind the people of Simcoe County that they are blessed with the purest water on the planet. We along with Indigenous people are the stewards of this precious life-source and we must stand shoulder to shoulder once again as we have in the past, Aquifer over Aggregate.”
Co-founder of the Site 41 movement Elizabeth Brass Elson welcomed area visitors, along with Anne Nahuis Ritchie; local residents who have been supporting the Friends of the Waverley Uplands group attended on Saturday.
“Protecting the water is one of the most sacred responsibilities we have as women. Being back on the land we fought so hard to save in the Dumpsite 41 peaceful protest, was an emotional experience with all those memories of Unity and connection with our brothers and sisters coming together again. Stepping, praying, drumming, singing, and blessing the water on this sacred aquifer once again, protecting, praying and uniting as one for the purest water in the world,” Elizabeth Brass Elson said.
This proposal is particularly of grave concern to Indigenous people, many of whom gathered in ceremony to remind the general public that Water is Sacred and that all people have a responsibility to safeguard the water, and that everyday people cannot sit idly by while this ancient source water is destroyed.
The ceremony led by Josephine Mandamin, the Water Walker inspired thousands of people to begin taking meaningful action, petitions the greater public to look closer.
“It is an honourable and humble task that we all take up our duty to protect the Water across Canada and abroad. We stood together in solidarity to raise the awareness of the need to come together as the two-leggeds in this journey with all our Clans. Our strength are in numbers. We can never say we did it alone. We need you all to come and join us in keeping our Mother Earth Alive. She is now showing her strength. As the women and men stood together in solidarity, in song, in prayer and with the fire, we felt the ancestors among us. Just like in the days of old, they stood together in solidarity for the Water. If you saw the faces of participants you can see ancestors among them. So, we ask each and every one of you out there: do something for the water each day.”
The gathering was also supported by local First Nations representative Terra Sandy Roy, Chief of the Beausoleil First Nation Youth Council who attended the event on behalf her community, “To be with people of all kinds in ceremony, all with the same goal; to protect the water, some of the purest water known to mother earth. The busy day began with a beautiful sunrise ceremony, it was conducted by the grandmothers. To sit in unison with everyone was incredible, it was powerful. Although a storm was well in the making and on its way, it didn’t stop us.”
She continues, “We stood as one around the fire in the wind and snow, in song and prayer for the precious water. Water is a gift, it’s a right and it’s our job as people of all kinds to protect the water in order to ensure that life of all kinds is able to continue for the next generations to come. It is also our job as people to keep Mother Earth as healthy as can be. She’s the reason why we are as
strong as we are today. Miigwetch, Thank You and Merci to all who came out and braved the weather.”
“It was truly an amazing experience, I am beyond thankful for the gathering.”
With the rising awareness of an imminent Water Crisis in Ontario and all across Canada; First Nations, local residents, farmers, cottagers, small business owners, are joining Water Protectors to form coalitions and advocacy groups to generate the long overdue awareness of the sacredness of water, and the fundamental importance of making decisions
The All Nations Water Ceremony celebrated the leadership that Indigenous Women have taken up to reaffirming their role to ensure the protection of Water. As well it was a display of commitment and determination as participants made their way across great distances in adverse weather. It was an opportunity build on the fellowship and mutual concern that is reflective of the Township of Tiny and local area.
“When I said “Warrior-Up” at the United Nations I wanted all people to take a stand for our water and for our planet. We all need to work together, to help each other to save what we can,” says Autumn Peltier in response to being asked what people can do to support the work for the water, “that means us having to make sure our great -great-great grandchildren even have half of what we have now. It’s my role being born here on Turtle Island and being Anishinaabe to share with others and work for creation.”
She further shared, “Our ancestors advocated for protection of our waters, our lands, our traditional ways in hopes they could save everything and make sure the ones coming had these things to carry on. I’m sad because I’m starting out on my journey and
I see what is happening in the world and what is happening to the water. If it’s this bad now when I’m only thirteen, what will things look like when I’m 53?” Autumn said.
“It was not a protest or political rally, but rather a way-making for future collaboration between indigenous and non indigenous people to navigate an issue that effects everyone. Ceremony binds us to the land and water, it gives us the encouragement and inspiration we need to continue advocating for the single most unifying cause there is,
“Water”, says organizer Edward George, “As the changes in climate are becoming more and more pronounced, there is reason to be more and more discerning when it comes to decisions that will
irreversibly impact the futurity of this land and these waterways we belong to, especially when that threatens life-source water. It was an opportunity to learn more about just how precious water really is.”
Stories of radical hope do not often reach those that need hope the most. The equitable representation of true acts of reconciliation and truth-telling are worthwhile stories. They represent the humanity in truly creating equity for all Peoples, including Water.