Tom Goldtooth of the Dakota people in Minnesota and a spokesperson f the Indigenous Environmental Network opened the meeting by reminding the gathering that the indigenous movement “has never been idle” in its work, a reference to the Idle No More movement. He in turn called upon Josephine Mandamin (Anishinaabekwe), an Ojibway woman also known as Grandmother Water Walker who is noted for her work to protect the Great Lakes and other waterways, to offer a prayer.
First speaking in her native language and then in English Mandamin said, “The creator gave us the duty to take care of our mother the earth the way we would take care of our own mother or grandmother.. She called women the “water carriers” and told the climate activists, “We are women are the water carriers, the life carriers. The little droplet of water is what unites us all.” She told the group, “We have come here to speak to the powers-that-be, to the corporations about the climate issues and to ask, ‘What are you going to do about it.’ And I ask you too, ‘What are you going to do?’” Read More
Q: What was the biggest challenge?
A: Our walkers were always having blisters but our feet got used to callouses after a while.
Q: Which Great Lake do you like best?
A:I think Lake Superior was the one we really respected a lot in terms of it’s majestic length and coolness of the water. It was very nice. You couldn’t swim in it because it was so cold. Lake Huron is my home water and I really have a lot of personal attachment to the water there. I’m from Manitoulin Island and Georgian Bay was pristine waters when I was there.
Q: What was your worst experience?
A: Lake Erie was a place where we were called down. On the American side, people were driving by saying ‘Crazy indians’ when we walked through Detroit, it was really scary. When we got back (over the Ambassador Bridge) to Windsor my son said ‘it’s good to be back home.’
Q: You’ve mentioned the pollution. Did anything give you reason for hope?
A:Lake Michigan is a beautiful lake and it flows into Lake Superior and there’s hope that we can still keep our waters pristine if we keep the motor boats and the gas out and get back to canoes. Where there are motorized boats, you can see the oil and gas in the water.