Nokomis Josephine Mandamin and group of walkers for the For the Earth and Water Walk 2017, recently stopped in Garden River First Nation for a welcomed feast and ceremony.

By Lynne Brown

GARDEN RIVER FIRST NATION—At 6:00 am, April 20, 2017, on Spirit Mountain, Duluth MN, USA, Anishinaabe (Ojibway) Grandmother and respected Elder Josephine Mandamin began leading another epic walk for the earth and water.

Nokomis Josephine has become an iconic symbol for environmental stewardship. A living vessel that contains her spirit force – the molecules of the ancestors. She is driven, in turn, to carry a vessel filled with liquid life – a copper pot where nibi (water) moves and sways with each footstep. She has inspired countless numbers of people – Indigenous and non-Indigenous – to walk for the water. For the Earth and Water Walk 2017 is a testament to that. As Josephine’s physical mobility creates challenges for her to walk great distances, she continues to push onward – often driving the white support vehicle that follows along behind the 2017 walkers.

The copper pot, dipped and filled with nibi from the cool April waters of Lake Superior is carried by women. The men travel along as guides and protectors – carrying the Eagle Staff – an extension of the ancestors who they carry in every intentional footstep, in every place and time where their feet land, where they breathe the air, where they petition the waters with sacred tobacco and ceremony – from Touch-Up to Touch-Down.

From an April 20 Facebook post by MotherEarth Water Walker – Norma Peltier, she writes, ‘Blessings as we are praying for the water. Ancestors are with us. Miigwetch.’

The roads have proved challenging for the walkers. Temperatures have, for the most part, been cold – snow and ice has welcomed them as they moved through North Minnesota, Wisconsin and Upper Peninsula Michigan.

Like-minded people are encouraged to join the walkers when so moved. There are a set of Protocols, which deepen the experience for persons who are unfamiliar with the rhythm and cadence of the walkers. All of that can be found on the ‘For the Earth and Water Walk 2017’ website.

The walkers moved through Upper Peninsula Michigan at the beginning of the month. They touched down near the International Bridge at Sault, Michigan, on Sunday, May 7.

The International Bridge Authority escorted the walkers across the Bridge at 4:00 a.m. Monday, May 8. The walkers continued along the pathway towards touch-down in Garden River First Nation, where a feast and ceremony was held at the Community Centre.

Media Release:

‘In 2003, Josephine listened to the call of the Elders to do something about the pollution and poisoning of our sole source of life. She responded to this call by lifting Nibi – the water – and walking around all the Great Lakes in addition to other lakes and rivers. With that first step, this Grandmother started the Water Walking movement, walking over 25,000 KMs. She has been joined by many people and her efforts to protect the water are echoed in larger First Nations environmental responses like Idle No More and Standing Rock.

At Sunrise on April 20th, 2017, Josephine and her group of Water Walkers began the long journey of carrying that water across Turtle Island (North America) along the Great Lakes to Matane, Quebec, Canada, where it will be joined with the water of the St. Lawrence Seaway. The journey covers 1420 Miles/2285 KMS. The core walkers will be walking all day until sundown for approximately 4 to 5 months. As they move through the traditional pathways of the Anishinaabe, they are, at times, joined by other Indigenous and non-Indigenous people who wish to participate. The ceremonial movement of the Water Walk is in honor of Nibi – A gift of life for all of Creation. The water walkers do this to honour and remember how without Water nothing would survive, including humans. They walk to remind people of the need to protect the Water for future generations. They walk because Water is Life.’

To follow the route of the water walkers in real time, go to:

Below is the route from May 9 until the Final destination of Mantane, Quebec.

– Sault Ste. Marie, ON to Laird, ON (36.9 kms)
– Laird, ON to Thessalon, ON (50.3 kms)
– Thessalon, ON to Blind River, ON (53 kms)
– Blind River, ON to Spanish, ON (48.4 kms)
– Spanish, ON to Espanola, ON (47.9 kms)
– Espanola, ON to Little Current, ON (49.9 kms)
– Little Current, ON to Wikwemikong, ON (49 kms)
– Wikwemikong to South Baymouth (43.7 kms)

Wikwemikong, ON[4]
– South Bay Mouth (via 2 hr ferry ride) to Miller Lake, ON (25.8 kms)
– Miller Lake, ON to Sauble Falls, ON (55.2 kms)
– Sauble Falls, ON to Underwood, ON (48.5 kms)
– Underwood, ON (via Hwy 21) to Kingsbridge, ON (48.8 kms)
– Kingsbridge, ON to Bayfield, ON (42.4 kms)
– Bayfield, ON to Kettle and Stony Point FNs, ON (55.7 kms)
– Kettle and Stony Point FNs to Sarnia, ON (43 kms)
– Sarnia, ON (via Hwy 40) to Walpole Island (49.3 kms)
– Walpole Island to Grande Point, ON (35.1 kms)
– Grande Point to Stoney Point, ON (37.6 kms)
– Stoney Point to St. Clair Beach, Tecumseh, ON (26.9 kms)

Detroit River[5]
– St. Clair Beach to LaSalle, ON (28.6 kms)
– LaSalle to Amherstburg , ON (15.8 kms)
– Amherstburg to Kingsville, ON via waterfront Colchester (41.3 kms)
– Kingsville to Leamington, ON (13.8 kms)
– Leamington to Erie Beach, ON (57.8 kms)
– Erie Beach to New Glasgow, ON (43.8 kms)
– New Glasgow to Port Stanley, ON (44.7 kms)
– Port Stanley to Long Point, ON (76.7 kms)
– Long Point to Port Dover, ON (39.3 kms)
– Port Dover to South Cayuga (42.7 kms)
– South Cayuga to Port Colborne, ON (42.4 kms)
– Port Colborne to Fort Erie, ON (24 kms)
– Fort Erie to Niagara Falls, ON (27.2 kms, more if you follow the water)

Niagara Falls[6]
– Niagara Falls, ON to Grimsby, ON (45.8 kms)
– Grimsby, ON to Oakville, ON (48.1 kms)
– Oakville, ON to Woodbine Beach, Toronto, ON (43 kms)
– Woodbine Beach, Toronto, ON to Oshawa, ON (46.7 kms)
– Oshawa, ON to Port Hope, ON (49 kms)
– Port Hope, ON to Brighton, ON (48.4 kms)
– Brighton, ON to Shannonville, ON (45.8 kms)
– Shannonville, ON to Odessa, ON (43.6 kms)
– Odessa, ON to Legge, ON (52.6 kms)
– Legge, ON to Brockville, ON (58.8 kms)
– Brockville, ON to Cornwall, ON (96.6 kms) 2 days
– Cornwall, ON to Saint-Zotique Beach, QU (46.5 kms)
– Saint-Zotique Beach, QU to Kahnawake, QC (64.4 kms) bridge crossing

Kahnawake[7] , QC
– Kahnawake, QC to Longeuil, QC (30 kms)
– Longeuil, QC to Contrecouer, QC (45 kms)
– Contrecouer, QC to Yamasaki, QC (42.2 kms)
– Yamasaki, QC to Saint-Gregoire, QC (49.6 kms)
– Saint-Gregoire, QC to Deschaillons-sur-Saint Laurent, QC (50.3 kms)
– Deschaillons-sur-Saint Laurent, Qc to Saint Antoine de Tilly, QC (49.2 kms)
– Saint Antoine de Tilly, QC to Lévis, QC (43.8 kms)
– Lévis, QC to Montmagny, QC (54.2 kms)
– Montmagny, QC to 1162 Route de la Seigneurie, QC (47.3 kms)
– 1162 Route de la Seigneurie, QC to Saint Germain, QC (48.7kms)
– Saint Germain, QC to Cacouna FN (46.2 kms)
– Cacouna FN to Saint-Simon-sur-Mer, QC (50.9 kms)
– Saint-Simon-sur-Mer, QC to Rimouski, QC (51 kms)
– Rimouski, QC to Métis-sur-Mer, QC (51.3 kms)
– Métis-sur-Mer, QC to Matane, QC (42.8 kms)


Videos –

(crossing the International Bridge)

(Uppper Peninsula Michigan)

(crossing the bridge – includes a song for nibi)