Basic facts and information

Water in the West: Rights of Water/Rights to Water

2017 Annual CIH Community Forum

Rights to water have been recognized internationally to be foundational to human rights. This section provides basic facts and information about the state of human rights to water, as well as about water rights in Canada and the situation of First Nations communities, particularly in Alberta.

The first section introduces the international framework, United Nations agencies mandated with key aspects of water rights and their (relevant) reports and publications. This section includes resources from the UN Water for Life Decade, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and water related programmes of UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The second section introduces the situation in Canada and the state of compliance with international standards particularly when it comes to the rights of First Nations communities. It includes information resources from the Government of Canada (The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs of the Government of Canada, Policy Horizon) as well as from the Human Rights Watch and mainstream media reports.

The third section introduces the legal framework and contemporary efforts in Alberta regarding water issues such as the Water for Life program and Transboundary Water Agreements of the province. It also introduces the regional response to the shortcomings identified in the TRC report in Alberta, particularly through the Calgary Aboriginal Urban Affairs Committee (CAUAC) received.

For more advanced information on (human) “rights to water” as well as on the subject of “rights of water” from an indigenous perspective, please consult the annotated bibliography section; there, you can find a selected range of academic and institutional publications.

Digital research dossier produced by Mohammad Sadeghi Esfahlani, PhD, MBA

Water and International Human Rights

Human Rights to Water 

 “On 28 July 2010, through Resolution 64/292, the United Nations General Assembly explicitly recognized the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realisation of all human rights. The Resolution calls upon States and international organisations to provide financial resources help capacity-building and technology transfer to help countries, in particular developing countries, to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all.

In November 2002, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted General Comment No. 15 on the right to water. Article I.1 states that "The human right to water is indispensable for leading a life in human dignity. It is a prerequisite for the realization of other human rights". Comment No. 15 also defined the right to water as the right of everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable and physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic uses.”

Source Link: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs UNDESA – Water for Life Decade – Human right to Water and Sanitation

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has also initiated several programmes dedicated to the topic of water: Water Security, Water Education and World Water Assessment.

UNESCO is responsible for coordinating international cooperation in education, science, culture and communication. It strengthens the ties between nations and societies, and mobilizes the wider public so that each child and citizen: has access to quality education […]; may grow and live in a cultural environment rich in diversity and dialogue […]; can fully benefit from scientific advances; and can enjoy full freedom of expression; the basis of democracy, development and human dignity.

Source Link: Introducing UNESCO  

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UNESCO Water Security and Water Education 

UNESCO works to build the scientific knowledge base to help countries manage their water resources in a sustainable way through the International Hydrological Programme (IHP), through leading the UN-wide World Water Development Report and through numerous Centres and Chairs on water around the world.

Freshwater is the most important resource for mankind, cross-cutting all social, economic and environmental activities. It is a condition for all life on our planet, an enabling or limiting factor for any social and technological development, a possible source of welfare or misery, cooperation or conflict.

To achieve water security, we must protect vulnerable water systems, mitigate the impacts of water-related hazards such as floods and droughts, safeguard access to water functions and services and manage water resources in an integrated and equitable manner.

Source Link: UNESCO – Water Security

Water education at all levels needs to be improved if the challenges identified in the previous themes are to be met. Water education must go beyond the teaching of hydrological sciences, and be both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary. This approach would include advancing scientific knowledge through the training of scientists as well as increasing knowledge on water issues through courses aimed at water professionals and decision-makers. Water education should also reach out to media professionals so that they can communicate water issues accurately and effectively. The work will include community education strategies to promote communitywide water conservation, as well as enhance skills in local co-management of water resources.

Objectives include supporting the enhancement of tertiary water education capacities, particularly in developing countries, promoting the continuous professional development of water scientists, engineers, managers and policy makers in the water sectors, as well as developing guidelines, briefing papers, prototype professional development programmes and case studies connected with water education for water security.

Water-related centres play an important role in this endeavour, in addition to the network of universities, institutes and research facilities linked to IHP’s other programmes.

Source Link: UNESCO – Water Education

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World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP) 

“Hosted and led by UNESCO, the United Nations World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP) coordinates the work of 31 UN-Water members and partners in the World Water Development Report (WWDR).

This key UN Water report is an annual review providing an authoritative picture of the state, use and management of the world’s freshwater resources. In addition to coordinating this significant UN report, WWAP monitors freshwater issues in order to provide recommendations, develop case studies, enhance assessment capacity at a national level and inform the decision-making process.

WWAP seeks to equip water managers and key decision-makers with the information, data, tools and skills necessary to enable them to effectively participate in the development of policies.

Source Link: UNESCO – World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP)

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World Water Day 

World Water Day is held annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. 

An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day. Each year, World Water Day highlights a specific aspect of freshwater. In 2015, World Water Day has the theme "Water and Sustainable Development".

In 2016, the theme was "Water and Jobs," in 2017 "Wastewater" and in 2018 "Nature-based Solutions for Water".

Source Link: UN Water – The UN inter-agency mechanism on all freshwater related Issues, including sanitation.

 

World Water Day 2017 theme: Wastewater

Globally, the vast majority of all the wastewater from our homes, cities, industry and agriculture flows back to nature without being treated or reused – polluting the environment, and losing valuable nutrients and other recoverable materials.

Instead of wasting wastewater, we need to reduce and reuse it. In our homes, we can reuse greywater on our gardens and plots. In our cities, we can treat and reuse wastewater for green spaces. In industry and agriculture, we can treat and recycle discharge for things like cooling systems and irrigation.

By exploiting this valuable resource, we will make the water cycle work better for every living thing. And we will help achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 6 target to halve the proportion of untreated wastewater and increase water recycling and safe reuse.

Link: Factsheet for 2017 World Water Day: Why Waste Water?


Water and Canadian First Nations

For general facts, figures and maps about water in Canada such as distribution, water quality and climate change impacts, please consult a webpage dedicated to these topics by Natural Resources Canada.

Source Link: Natural Resources Canada - Water

Current Situation

In an article featured in Policy Horizons Canada, the issue of aboriginal rights with respect to water has been examined in light of emerging threats and increased demand for Canadian water resources for domestic and international consumption. 

Policy Horizons Canada is a foresight and knowledge organization within the federal public service. It seeks to anticipate emerging policy challenges and opportunities through scanning and foresight and supports medium-term policy development by the Government of Canada. 

Entitled “Whose Water is it? Aboriginal Water Rights and International Trade Agreements”, this article investigates the concept and history of aboriginal water rights as well as the implications of NAFTA on aboriginal water rights and provides recommendations in response to the situation. 

This article concludes by recognizing that

“there is a challenge associated with protecting Aboriginal water rights in the context of international trade. The converse of this perspective, however, is that long-term protection of Canada’s freshwater resources may depend on the thorough, consistent, documented, and transparent discharge of governmental fiduciary obligations to Aboriginal peoples regarding their water rights. Although still uncertain, this may be one of the few actions governments in Canada can assert to prevent further water commodification and export. This may be the only legally justifiable way to restrict the trade in, and export of, Canadian water, without violating numerous NAFTA protections. By respecting their relationship with Aboriginal peoples, while seeking to protect water resources in Canada, governments could control further commodification of freshwater while upholding the honour of the Crown.”

Source Link: Policy Horizons Canada – Whose Water Is It? Aboriginal Water Rights and International Trade Agreements.

A recent report by the Human Rights Watch published in 2016 emphasizes “Canada’s Obligation to End First Nations Water Crisis” while recognizing that despite Canada’s richness in water resources and access of most Canadians to safe and affordable drinking water, due to lack of binding regulation for water on First Nation reserves, their water supplies are “contaminated, hard to access, or at risk due to faulty treatment systems”

Source Link: Human Rights Watch – Make it Safe: Canada’s Obligation to End First Nations Water Crisis

Amanda Klasing, a senior researcher of rights to clean water at Human Rights Watch in a special opinion piece in The Globe and Mail has also brought this issue to popular attention, urging Canada to “fulfill everyone’s right to clean, healthy water”.

Source Link: The Globe and Mail - Why is Canada denying its indigenous peoples clean water?   

Previously, CBC News had aired a section to this issue entitled “Bad Water: ‘Third World’ conditions on First Nations in Canada”.

 

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

The TRC is a component of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.

Its mandate is to inform all Canadians about what happened in Indian Residential Schools (IRS). The Commission will document the truth of survivors, families, communities and anyone personally affected by the IRS experience.

This includes First Nations, Inuit and Métis former Indian Residential School students, their families, communities, the Churches, former school employees, Government and other Canadians.

The Commission has a five-year mandate and is supported by a TRC Secretariat, which is a federal government department.

The TRC will prepare a comprehensive historical record on the policies and operations of the schools and produce a report that will include recommendations to the Government of Canada concerning the IRS system and its legacy.

The TRC hopes to guide and inspire Aboriginal peoples and Canadians in a process of reconciliation and renewed relationships that are based on mutual understanding and respect.

Source Link: About the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

The TRC has published the final report of its findings in 2015. Below, the relevant section that highlight the problem of water and its relevance for the broader problems identified in the report are selectively presented.

1. The problem of water in the historic context of health situations in residential schools:

“For Sickness, conditions at this school are nothing less than criminal.”

“Reserve land was often agriculturally unproductive. Reserve housing was poor and crowded, sanitation was inadequate, and access to clean water was limited. Under these conditions, tuberculosis flourished. Those people it did not kill were often severely weakened and likely to succumb to measles, smallpox, and other infectious diseases” (p. 95).

2. The persistence of problems as a result of legacy:

“Current conditions such as the disproportionate apprehension of Aboriginal children by child-welfare agencies and the disproportionate imprisonment and victimization of Aboriginal people can be explained in part as a result or legacy of the way that Aboriginal children were treated in residential schools and were denied an environment of positive parenting, worthy community leaders, and a positive sense of identity and self-worth.” (p.182)

3. Addressing water issues to improve outcomes for the welfare of children:

“We believe that in order to redress the legacy of residential schools and to move towards more respectful and healthy relationships, the Government of Canada, in meaningful consultation with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities, must recognize and address the broader context of the child-welfare crisis. This includes matters of child poverty, housing, water, sanitation, food security, family violence, addictions, and educational inequities” (p.191)

4. Addressing the challenge of reconciliation through the power of (water) ceremonies; attendee’s at TRC events learned to acknowledge and respect Indigenous ceremonies and protocols by participating in them:

“Water ceremonies were performed by the women who were recognized as the Protectors of the Waters. The sacred fire was also used for ongoing prayers and tobacco offerings, as well as to receive the tissues from the many tears shed during each event. The ashes from each of the sacred fires were then carried forward to the next National Event, to be added in turn to its sacred fire, thus gathering in sacred ceremony the tears of an entire country (p.320).

Source Link: Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada - Final Report

Treaty 7

Treaty 7 is one of a family of numbered treaties signed between Canada’s First Nations and Queen Victoria between 1871 and 1921. Treaty 7 paved the way for the peaceful settlement of the Province of Alberta. The following maps are provided by Making Treaty 7. The first map demonstrates territories covered by all the Treaties in Canada.

Source Link: Making Treaty 7 – Treaty Map of Canada

 The second map demonstrates First Nations and their territories covered by Treaties 6, 7 and 8 in Alberta.

Source Link: Making Treaty 7 - First Nations and Treaty 6, 7 and 8 in Alberta.

Making Treaty 7 tells the story of that historic agreement, and investigates the results and implications 137 years later. Making Treaty 7 has also produced a theatrical production which offers through art, a moving and engaging means to meet the recommendation of the TRC for all Canadians be familiar with the treaties. This vision is a cocreation of First Nation and non-First Nation artists informed by the stories of the respected Elders of the Treaty 7 nations.

Source Link: Discussing Treaty 7 and Human Rights – Scenes and Material from the Performance

Making Treaty 7 through a special message has been recognized for its “powerful contribution to the ongoing work of truth and reconciliation” (Source Link: Special Message from TRC).

For more information on the performance and the Making Treaty 7 Cultural Society please visit our website at www.makingtreaty7.com.

The Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs of the Government of Canada offers a Treaty Guide to Treaty No. 7. This guide includes:

  • a historical interpretation of the treaty in a Treaty Research Report: Treaty 7 (Direct Link).
  • a typed transcript of Treaty 7 (Direct Link),
  • a map of Canada in 1877 (Direct Link)
  • and additional resources in a Bibliography by Treaty: Treaty 7 (Direct Link)  

Source Link: Indigenous and Northern Affairs of Canada - Treaty Guide to Treaty No. 7 (1877)


Water in Alberta

Alberta Water for Life Strategy

In November 2009 The Government of Alberta released the (renewed) Water for Life action plan, the roadmap that the government and its partners will follow over the next 10 years. The action plan supports the goals and directions in Alberta’s renewed Water for Life strategy. The renewed strategy reflects the population increase and economic growth Alberta has seen over recent years, and Albertans’ changing water needs. Like the original, the renewed Water for Life strategy has three main goals:

  • safe, secure drinking water;
  • healthy aquatic ecosystems;
  • and reliable, quality water supplies for a sustainable economy.

Source Link: Alberta Environment and Parks - Water for Life webpage

Factsheet: Alberta Environment and Parks (Government of Alberta) has developed a handbook about the province’s water, and some of the current challenges facing the water resources. This handbook entitled “Facts about Water in Alberta” outlines where our water comes from, who uses water in the province, and how water quality and quantity is managed (Link: Facts about Water in Alberta).

During the development of Water for Life strategy, three types of partnerships were recognized to enable Albertans to be involved at the provincial, regional and local level, the Alberta Water Council, Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils, and Watershed Stewardship Groups.

Each of these partnerships involves a cross-section of stakeholders working towards shared outcomes and goals.

The Alberta Water Council works with the other partnerships that were created as a result of the Water for Life strategy

Source Link: Alberta Water Council - Partnership

Watershed stewardship groups (WSGs)

Water stewardship groupstake community-level action to safeguard our water sources. These groups are community, volunteer-based partnerships actively engaged in environmental stewardship of their watershed. They include individuals, organizations, agriculture, industry, municipalities and other forms of local government and set common goals to achieve shared outcomes.

Currently there are over 140 stewardship groups in Alberta undertaking a wide variety of activities. WSGs are supported by the Alberta Stewardship Network and Watershed Stewardship Grant, programs of the Land Stewardship Centre. The Stewardship Directory helps community stewardship groups, organizations, businesses and government find and connect with each other in order to share their experiences and lessons learned in stewardship and natural resource management.

Source Link: Land Stewardship Centre - Water Stewardship Directory

Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils (WPACs)
Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils are important stewards of Alberta's major watersheds. They are independent, non-profit organizations that are designated by Alberta Environment to assess the condition of their watershed and prepare plans to address watershed issues. They also conduct education and stewardship activities throughout their watershed. WPACs typically include representatives of key stakeholders in the watershed, including provincial, municipal and federal governments, important industrial sectors, conservation groups, and aboriginal communities. They engage watershed residents in their work and seek consensus on solutions to watershed issues.

Source Link: Alberta Environment and Parks – Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils

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Calgary Aboriginal Urban Affairs Committee - White Goose Flying Report

In July 2015, the Calgary Aboriginal Urban Affairs Committee (CAUAC) received direction from Calgary City Council to discuss truth and reconciliation. In particular, CAUAC was to determine which of the 94 Calls to Action from the Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future; Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2015) are actionable by Calgary’s municipal government (Notice of Motion NM2015-17).

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Summary Report raises awareness of the true history and legacy of Indian residential schools, sheds light on survivor impacts over several generations, details the consequences of colonization, and provides an enlightened opportunity to understand historically intractable urban Indigenous issues such as poverty, homelessness, addictions, unemployment, violence and incarceration.  The Calls to Action identified in this White Goose Flying report are the result of several months of deliberation by CAUAC members.

As key representatives of Calgary’s urban Indigenous community, CAUAC sought to identify Calls to Action for The City to address that: 

  • are directed specifically at municipalities, or 'all levels of government'
  • are feasible, and which The City has the ability to implement
  • are impactful enough to reach the greatest number of individuals and families (non-Indigenous Calgarians included)
  • are appropriately aligned to existing City initiatives and policies

Source Link: White Goose Flying: A Report to Calgary City Council on the Indian Residential School Truth and Reconciliation

Link: CBC News report: Calgary Reconciliation efforts guided by White Goose Flying

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WATERSHED+

WATERSHED+ is an innovative and unique public art program hosted by Utilities and Environment Protections department of the City of Calgary. 

WATERSHED+ is a way of working that aims to develop awareness and pleasure in the environment, not by changing water management practice, nor developing a uniform visual language, but rather by creating a climate of opportunity for water initiatives to build an emotional connection between people and the watershed.

Its guiding motive is to embed artists and, more specifically, their creative process within UEP core activities and the Calgary watershed. This program presents an innovative approach to public art and a distinct way of working with the public and other partners.

WATERSHED+ proposes a long term plan which represents a major step in taking creative practice further into the day-to-day activities of UEP and implementing new working methods and processes.

WATERSHED+ is currently in its Pilot Period, an initial 18 months to establish and develop the foundations of the program.

The WATERSHED+ program was developed by artist team sans façon through the UEP Public Art Plan. Sans façon has been selected as the Lead artist for the pilot period.

Source Link: Watershedplus Website (About)

Alternative Link: The city of Calgary Website – Watershed+ Public Art

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Alberta Transboundary Water Agreement

In Alberta water management does not end at the province’s borders. The Government of Alberta’s various transboundary water agreements involve the Government of Canada, as well as the provinces of British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and the Northwest Territories. Alberta (i.e. Canada) also has water agreement with the State of Montana (i.e. the United States).

Alberta works with its national and international neighbours to manage its water resources to meet its obligations to its neighbours, as well as receive its entitlements from its neighbours. Part of this work involves participating on water boards as defined in the agreements. 

Source Link: Alberta Environment and Parks’ Alberta Transboundary Water Agreements Page

Alberta shares an international border with the U.S. State of Montana as well as the Canadian provinces of B.C., Saskatchewan and the North West Territories. As water crosses these international and provincial/ territorial borders, there are transboundary water agreements in place to protect Alberta’s water interests while encouraging cooperation with other jurisdictions. The following is a description of the three main transboundary water agreements in Alberta; the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty, 1997 Mackenzie River Basin Transboundary Water Master Agreement, and the 1969 Master Agreement on Apportionment with Saskatchewan.

For more information, please visit Alberta Water Portal’s information webpage below:

Source Link: Alberta Water Portal – Alberta’s Transboundary Water Agreements


Water and Indigenous Activism

Tar Sands Healing Walk in Fort McMurray

“We’re now stronger than ever to fight tar sands development across North America.”

June 28, 2014, Fort McMurray, Alberta – First Nations from across North America took part today in the fifth and final Healing Walk in Fort McMurray, Alberta, an annual event that organizers say has achieved its ultimate purpose of building unity and alliances among First Nations impacted by tar sands development in Canada and the United States. Fort McMurray, a traditional hunting, fishing, and gathering ground, is also the centre of tar sands development. The walk offered healing prayers to the land and to build strength and unity among people impacted by tar sands development.

“First Nations communities were once scared to share their stories about tar sands impacts, but the Healing Walk has been a safe place to share knowledge so that today First Nations are stronger than ever to fight tar sands development across North America,” said Eriel Deranger, of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.

Indigenous people came from Houston, Alabama, and across Canada. First Nation leaders included the Grand Chief Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Derek Nepinak, Grand Chief Philip Stewart, Chief Allan Adam, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations, Chief Steve Courterielle, Mikisew Cree First Nation. Hundreds from nearby communities and across North America also joined the walk, including First Nations rapper Frank Waln, thirteen-year-old First Nation singer Takai Blaney and local doctor, John O’Connor.

On Friday there were a series or workshops about tar sands impacts. The recent Tsilhqot’in court case was top of mind and there were many conversations about the implications for future tar sands development.

“This is the last healing walk in the Athabasca region because it’s time to shed light on other communities impacted by tar sands,” said Jesse Cardinal, coordinator of Keepers of the Athabasca. “In order to stop the destruction, the healing has to start everywhere.”

The Healing Walk was organized by Keepers of the Athabasca, a network of First Nation, Metis and settler communities along the Athabasca River. There was a pipe ceremony before the walk, followed by a feast.

The Alberta tar sands produced approximately 1.9 million barrels of oil per day in 2012, but if industry and government’s expansion plans are approved that number could reach 5 million barrels per day by the end of 2030. This year, First Nations have witnessed the oil spill in Cold Lake, which still continues without a way to stop it. Just this week, eight experts in environmental science, policy and risk from Simon Fraser University called for a moratorium on all new tar sands development until there is a comprehensive policy-making process for energy development for North America.

Source Link: Tar Sands Healing Walk Website – Last News Release

Mother Earth Water Walk 

The Mother Earth Water Walk is a well-publicized example of the decolonization of water in North America. It has been initiated by two Anishinawbe Grandmothers and a group of Anishinawbe Women and Men who have been raising awareness of critical water issues by walking the perimeter of the Great Lakes. Along with a group of supporters, they walked around Late superior in Spring 2003, around Lake Michigan in 2004, Lake Huron in 2005, Lake Ontario in 2006 and Lake Erie in 2007. The walk has continued each year and has created other similar initiatives across Canada, such as Katherine Morrisseau-Sinclair’s Lake Winnipeg Water Walk 2014.

Source:  Linton, J., Mabee, W., & Davidson, S. L. (2015). Water as a social opportunity. McGill-Queen’s University Press. Page 2019. Retrieved from https://books.google.ca/books?id=53OACwAAQBAJ&dq=%22Two+Anishinawbe+Grandmothers,+and+a+group+of%22&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Ojibwe Grandmother and Water Walker Josephine Mandamin Honored for Conservation

She has walked more than 10,000 miles, along the banks of numerous rivers and lakes, and now Ojibwe grandmother Josephine Mandamin, Wikwemikong First Nation, has been recognized for her years of effort by a Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award.

The founder of the Mother Earth Water Walk was one of seven people recognized for Excellence in Conservation on Friday February 26 by the Ontario Heritage Trust, which works to identify, protect, renew and promote the diversities of nature and culture that keep the province vibrant. The awards are given annually for “exceptional contributions to conserving Ontario’s cultural and natural heritage,” according to the Ontario Heritage Trust site. 

Mandamin was recognized for her role in founding the Mother Earth Water Walk in 2003 as well as for holding symposiums and conferences in First Nations communities. She has walked the perimeter of all the Great Lakes, and numerous other waterways—for a total of more than 10,500 miles over the past five years.

“Ms. Mandamin is one of the two founding Grandmothers who started Water Walks,” the heritage site said. “She has performed these walks throughout Canada, Central America and the United States, and is one of three official Commissioners of the Anishinabek Women’s Water Commission who work to improve dialogue, communication and relations between the Anishinabek Nation (comprised of 39 First Nation communities), the government of Canada, and interested businesses, organizations and individuals.”

Mandamin, who lives in Thunder Bay, Ontario, has gotten more than 100 First Nation communities to sign the First Nations Great Lakes Water Accord, the heritage site noted, as well as mentored First Nations citizens and youth. Her goal, as she told Indian Country Today Media Network back in 2011, is to make people aware of their dependence on water, as well as their connection to it.

“We want to raise the collective consciousness of people about the water,” Mandamin said, suggesting that people make it a daily practice to thank the water. “You will likely feel a lot better and better united with the water. It is human, it can sense, it can feel, it can hear what you’re saying.”

She was also quoted in a statement from the Union of Ontario Indians.

“I will go to any lengths to and direction to carry the water to the people,” Mandamin has said. “As women, we are carriers of the water. We carry life for the people. So when we carry that water, we are telling people that we will go any lengths for the water. We’ll probably even give our lives for the water if we have to. We may at some point have to die for the water, and we don’t want that.”

The Union of Ontario Indians also lauded Mandamin’s accomplishments, and expressed gratitude for her award.

“Elder Josephine Mandamin has walked the shorelines of five Great Lakes as well as in all four directions of Turtle Island,” said Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee of the Anishinabek Nation, the Union of Ontario Indians, in a statement. “She takes care of the lifeblood of Mother Earth—water. Josephine has been bringing awareness about pollution, laws, fracking and the selling of the water. I congratulate her on such a great honor.

Source: Indian Country Media Network

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