On Thursday July 14 to July 17th, hundreds of people will gather on the shores of Lake Huron at Ojibway Park in Garden River First Nation for the Great Lakes Gathering.
A Sunrise Ceremony will open four days of ceremonies, welcoming Nibi Onji Canoe Journey and Water Keepers Journey, two separate ceremonial canoe journeys which started in June, and became one approximately three weeks ago.
Edward E. George, Stoney Point First Nation is Nibi Onji Canoe Journey. Saultonline sat down with Edward at Ojibway Park on Tuesday, and will share a story later about his journey. An epic journey that inspired many along the route, including canoe paddlers who joined Nibi Onji and are still with him, paddling their way to Sunrise Ceremony on Thursday, July 14th. Edward has had incredible shore support as well. Joanne Robertson (Fiddlehead Farms, Goulais River) is mapping the route and a person call follow along via Facebook page.
Water Keepers Canoe Journey are following ‘ancestral canoe routes through the chain of lakes that connect us with Atikameksheng Anishinaabek, down through Whitefish River territory to the Great Lake Huron. We will follow the North shore passing through the territories of Sagamok, Genaabaajiin (Serpent River), Mississaugi First Nation, and Thessalon First Nation before arriving at our destination; the Great Lakes Water Gathering in Garden River First Nation.’
For people coming to the Gathering, who would like to camp, “We have an entire section of Ojibway Park reserved for campers.” shared Becky Big Canoe, one of Great Lakes Gatherings organizers. “Bring out your own water in large containers. We are discouraging the use of small plastic water bottles. Bring lots of potable water with you”
With the theme of meaningful discussion and ceremonies for nibi, water, using disposable plastic water bottles would run counter to Great Lakes Gathering purpose.
Anyone heading out to Ojibway Park for the Gathering is encouraged to help keep a steady supply of potable water topped up.
Not everyone attending Great Lakes Gathering will be staying at Ojibway Park. Local hotels and motels will be filling up with attendees, who are expected to begin arriving today, Wednesday and throughout the four days. There are a substantial number of local people expected to attend.
Starting in February, 2016, ‘A callout was issued to Anishinaabek, Métis, and anyone else who has a concern or stake in the health of the Great Lakes. Many issues will be discussed at the Great Lakes Gathering, including the nuclear waste burial at the Kincardine site, the aging Enbridge Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac, and the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s proposed sites for a deep geological depository along the north shore of Lake Huron. The health and well being of the Great Lakes will be discussed, as well as their value and importance for Indigenous nations in the Great Lakes region.’ (media release)
Under the Elders’ guidance, the people in attendance will discuss the many serious issues regarding the health & wellness of the Great Lakes, and what actions can be taken to preserve them.
“This 4 day ceremonial gathering is a direct action for our sacred waters. We must continue to gather, pray and walk for the water until we know water will be cared for and protected. ” Josephine Mandamin (Anishinaabe)
“The spiritual fabric of Indigenous peoples has always been strongly connected to the water and many see the importance of ensuring that clean water is passed down for future generations. Indigenous peoples see a water crisis has already begun, as many animals do not have water to drink and we do not want to see water issues worsen. We want to improve water quality for plants, animals and humans.” Isaac Murdoch (Anishinaabe)
“The reason why we’ve received such an overwhelming response for this gathering is because everyone who lives around the Great Lakes understands that industry is being given too much power and the risks are too high. It seems like the people are always put second behind the interests of industry.” Christi Belcourt (Métis)
Organizing committee member, Christi Belcourt told saultonline, “We want to discuss ways that we can move forward with ideas that come out of The Gathering; So that things don’t end here. How do we, as a grassroots movement continue to champion for the water after The Gathering.”
Follow the hashtag #GreatLakesGathering on twitter.
Great Lakes Gathering on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/672138276222908/?active_tab=posts
Nibi Onji Canoe Journey: https://www.facebook.com/canoejourneynibionji/
Water Keepers Journey: on twitter: @waterkeepersjouney2016 https://www.facebook.com/WaterKeepersJourney2016/