As International Water Week concludes, Indigenous researchers at McMaster University are gathering stories from water walkers globally.
Indigenous women have a unique role of caring for water that transcends political boundaries. Indigenous women elders have led a movement to protect the water and raise awareness of water security issues by walking in prayer and ceremony with this sacred relative. These walks are now known as the Mother Earth Water Walks or Nibi Walks and take place each year in various communities across Turtle Island (North America).
The survey was co-developed with Grandmother Josephine Mandamin (Ojibwe Wikwemikong First Nation) and Joanne Robertson (Ojibwe Atikameksheng Anishnawbek). The researchers aim to gather information on how many Water Walks have been held globally since 2003 when Josephine Mandamin first asked for individuals and organizations to come together annually to walk for the water and raise awareness in their communities.
The survey is open to water walkers of all ages. It takes participants 15 minutes to complete and asks questions about their experience walking for the water, including how many water walks they have participated in, what roles they have had during water walks, reasons they believe the water they walk for is threatened and whether Grandmother Josephine Mandamin inspired them to walk for the water .
The results of the survey will help to document the global impact of Water Walks and the varied water teachings of Indigenous Peoples.
The water walks are a reclamation of ancient traditions that build awareness for the protection of water and Indigenous ways of caring for water. When Grandmother Josephine first thought about a water walk survey she wanted to know how many water walks have been held since 2003. She said, “I need to know where and how many, because I’ve been asked.” The survey is one way to measure the impact water walkers have had globally. As she eloquently states:
"In the year 2000, I was given the thought that if we continue with our negligence that thirty years from now an ounce of water is going to cost as much as an ounce of gold. When asked ‘what are you going to do about it?’ My response was I would raise awareness, tell people about it, go around as much as possible and tell people about it and the benefits of that would be that I would see that people are aware of what’s going on, more aware of the water, [and there would be] resistance to the big corporations, like Nestlé."
Sharing the stories of water walkers is a part of the fulfillment of Grandmother Josephine’s original hope to inspire others to cease their negligence towards the water.
Why do you walk for the water?
Share your story and take the survey here: https://surveys.mcmaster.ca/limesurvey/index.php/656344