Saturday, June 13, 2009

Water connects us all

I've often posted about the similarities we all have and this story is no exception. It seems that many indigenous cultures use walking or hikoi to actualise their feelings about issues.

From a Kevin McMahon article in the Toronto Star the story of Josephine Mandamin, who set out six years ago to walk around the Great Lakes. She's made it 17,000 km so far. What Mandamin, an Anishinabe elder from Thunder Bay, wants illuminated is environmental collapse of the Great lakes.

"Mandamin grew up on Manitoulin Island, eating fresh fish daily and drinking straight from Georgian Bay. During her lifetime, she has seen the Great Lakes nearly ruined – the fish killed by invasive species, the harbours poisoned, and, now, the water evaporating into the clouds of global warming.

Since the lakes provide drinking water to 35 million people, you'd think their health would be a raging public issue. But it has ebbed and flowed from public consciousness since the Cuyahoga River fire of 1969.

In 2005, more than 60 scientists endorsed a report declaring the Great Lakes ecosystem so stressed that it's nearing "irreversible" collapse – a prediction ignored by most of the region's media.

In the Anishinabe tradition, women fetch the water. So, in 2003, when Mandamin was "moved by the spirits" to speak out for the Great Lakes, it was natural for her to pick up her copper pail and start walking. She decided to circle the lakes and tell people that "the water is sick ... and people need to really fight for that water, to speak for that water, to love that water."

At every tributary, Mandamin stops and talks directly to the water, offering prayers, tobacco and thanks. "I've heard so many times, `You're crazy...'" she says. "But we know it's not a crazy thing we're doing; we know it's for the betterment of the next generations.""

Saving our world for future generations is important to us all, whether we realise it or not.

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