“When you go on to that water, when you go near that water remember and acknowledge… use tobacco… thank that water for continuing to look after us… thank you [the water] for being alive.”
That was the request of Batchawana First Nations Chief Dean Sayers, during the Water Awareness Day at the National Historic site in the Canal District. The day, designed for sharing Indigenous cultures and information on the water, was put together by Batchawana First Nations with the help of Lake Superior Watershed Conservancy.
Chief Sayers had shared that another message for anyone looking to encroach further on the waters, the waters which the Indigenous people have declared are living and such have certain rights.
“We will not, we will not endorse any more encroachments, any more poison in our waters. No ferrochrome on the Great Lakes, No ferrochrome in the watershed, no isotopes, no bearing of nuclear waste in our territories,” said Sayers. “We will not compromise, we will not. We will not give up our inherent promises that we made to all of creation.”
Garden Rivers newly re-elected Chief Andy Ricard shared much of the same sentiment of his counterpart in relation to the history of industry in our community.
“We are right on the St. Mary’s River, we are right beside industry, we have been right beside industry for many years,” said Ricard. “All these things that flow down past our communities, all these things that go into the various water systems in our area, it’s definitely a critical concern for our community when we are talking about the water and the health of it, because water is life.”
Organizers who spoke to SaultOnline say they intended to provide education, share traditional teachings and raise awareness about water on the Great Lakes throughout the day.
Sayers ended his address with a thank you and a reminder of where they were standing.
“Thank you for all coming here today and miigwetch for all the organizers. Have a beautiful ceremony and a beautiful day next to our our Kitchi gami, that beautiful lake. Miigwetch.”
The event runs until 5 p.m. this evening at the Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site.