Vicki Monague presents Site 41 water to Lenca people
Anishinabekwe Vicki Monague of Chimnissing presents water from Site 41 in Ontario, the cleanest water tested to date, to Lenca Grandmother Maria Luisa in Reitoca, Honduras, where the indigenous people are fighting a hydro-electric dam on the Petacón River. -Morgan Goertz photo
By Vicki Monague – Roots to Migration Delegation
On June 1st, 2019, the Cross Border Network Delegation visited the Lenca Peoples of Reitoca, which is comprised of 9 indigenous Lenca communities. The Cross Border Network and the Simcoe County Honduran Rights Monitor, as a 17 member delegation of Canadian and United States citizens, visited Honduras to investigate the Roots of Migration of Hondurans to the US-Mexico Border.
In 2009, the Anishinabe women of Beausoleil First Nation (An Ojibwe Indigenous community located in Lake Huron, Ontario), with the support of local area farmers and residents, led a movement to protect a pristine underground water source from the development of a landfill.
Through a blockade and injunction, criminal charges and division, the people banded together and won. The Site 41 water, from the artesian wells of the Alliston Aquifer in the Anishinabe lands of Simcoe County, have been tested to be cleaner than the cleanest layers of arctic glacial ice by Dr. William Shotyk. This pristine water has been sent all over the world in solidarity with Indigenous peoples who are defending their rights to life and protecting land and water.
Indigenous peoples globally are facing extreme levels of exploitation and neglect of basic human rights. There is a global trend of State Governments not honoring Free, Prior and Informed Consent of Indigenous peoples in favor of corporate projects, which often is a symptom of environmental racism.
The Site 41 water was taken as part of the Cross Border Network delegation. Prior to leaving, it was prayed for in Ceremony at the Forest County Pottawatomi Community in Wisconsin, which included the water from Pottawatomi territory. Then a ceremony at Site 41 in Tiny Township. Finally, the water was a part of a Simcoe County children’s water walk in which nearly 900 children participated, it was carried by 10-year old Beausoleil First Nation member Arielle.
Upon arrival to Honduras, the sacred water was given to an unnamed (for the protection of the individual) Life Defender in Honduras and was carried in the Torch Light March in the city of El Progresso, Honduras on May 25, 2019.
The water was also taken to Garifuna lands and territories at Trujillo in solidarity with their on-going land reclamation projects. Garifuna lands are currently under threat by Canadian tourism projects, which are illegally obtaining Indigenous lands and are affecting the primary water source of the community. On May 30, 2019, the water travelled to La Tolva Maximum Security Prison, where political prisoners Edwin Espinal and Raul Alvarez are being held for protesting electoral fraud.
The water made its final destination to the Lenca Community of Reitoca, given to local Grandmother Maria Luisa. The Lenca people of Reitoca are currently fighting a hydro-electric dam on the Petacón River. They have set up a camp where the Dam is being built and have successfully stopped some of the heavy machinery from going in. In April 2019, members of the community were heavily repressed by security officials of the hydro-electric dam proponent, Promotora de Energia Limpia S.A. (PROGELSA). Three of their community members were shot standing up for the river since the resistance to the project began in 2017.
As per United Nations Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No. 169), which Honduras ratified on March 28, 1995, the Honduran Government is required to consult the Lenca communities of Reitoca. The Lenca people of Reitoca have legal land title to the area where the project is located and they have not been consulted on the project.
They have vowed to protect the river, even if it means their life.
The Lenca people have occupied these lands since time immemorial. Protecting the river from the hydro-electric dam is asserting their inherent rights & sovereignty. Grandmother Maria Luisa, along with her community members, will take the sacred water to the Petacón River, which is the site of the hydro-electric dam.
It is believed that the water holds the memory of the Earth and is one of the world’s most precious resources. Anishinabe people, who are Ojibwe, Odawa and Pottawatomi, believe that Water is Life. It is through the memory of the water, that we send our intentions of love and our prayers all over the world for the liberation of Indigenous peoples, protection of lands and waters and the healing of humanity. The Site 41 Water has been sent to 9 countries globally in the past 10 years.
For more information, please contact Vicki M. R. Monague, mzhakdokwe (at) gmail.com.