We’re all born of water, we’re all connected with the water;, we’re all related in that way. Even though we’re not related by blood, we’re related by water. So water is very precious for us.” -Josephine Mandamin
Simply put, Nokomis Josephine Mandamin is an incredible lady. She is one of the original water walkers. In 2000 an elder presented Josephine with a prophecy. He warned that “water will cost as much as gold” by the year 2030. For the Anishinaabe, water is associated with Mother Earth and it is the responsibility of grandmothers (nokomis) to lead other women to pray for and protect water. Josephine wanted “to do something about it.” And that she did! In 2003, Josephine led a water walk around Lake Superior. Since then Nokomis has walked over 25 000 kilometers around the Great Lakes, bringing awareness of the need to protect water.
Josephine, now seventy-seven, still visits the water daily, but her “water walking” days are over. Josephine has Parkinson’s Disease, but it hasn’t deterred her desire to continue to bring awareness to water. It is Josephine’s greatest wish that people continue with her work. She asks that people adopt a lake or any body of water and protect it.
A chance encounter brought Josephine to my class. In fact, you might say, water connected us. You can read our blog post Blue Gold and view our video Great Lakes and the Water Walker to learn more about how the Junior Water Walkers initiative came to be.
Update: It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Nokomis Josephine Mandamin on February 22, 2019. We are comforted knowing her spirit and legacy will live on.
The Junior Water Walkers Initiative
Josephine has inspired us to continue her walk and we are inviting classes from around the Great Lakes, across Canada and throughout the world to join us! We ask that you decide on a body of water in your area to learn about, adopt and help protect. Then join us in the spring, on any one of the Fridays in May 2019 when classes from around the world will walk around their body of water to honour Nokomis Josephine Mandamin and continue to bring awareness to water.
We encourage you to reach out to your local Indigenous community to have them share local water traditions and customs. Invite them to your classroom and on your walk.
A great starting point for bringing water awareness to your class would be by reading the “Water Walker” to your students.
Please share what your class is doing to protect water by leaving a comment below or tweeting to the #JuniorWaterWalkers hashtag.
**As of March, 2019 we have 176 classes committed to being Junior Water Walkers!**
To join us, fill in the Junior Water Walkers form and add your class to the map!
Colouring pages! Download these two colouring pages (illustrated by Joanne Robertson) and have your #JuniorWaterWalkers share them!