Mi’kmaw grandmothers braved cold and rainy conditions on Sunday as they began their march to Maine in the name of water.
The annual Wabanaki Water Walk is an awareness campaign that honours the sacredness of water in a world of rising sea levels, increasing temperatures and near-constant resource extraction.
It started in Fort Ellis, N.S., at the site of the Alton Gas Natural Storage Project on the banks of the Shubenacadie River, and will continue more than 600 kilometres to the Town of Passadumkeag, Maine.
They expect to arrive on July 11, just in time for the Healing the Wounds of Turtle Island Gathering at the Nebezin Lodge.
“Our Mother Earth is in crisis because of climate change, because of mankind, the way they treat our Mother Earth and our water,” said Dorene Bernard, a grassroots grandmother and one of the women leading the trek.
“It’s not a resource it’s a source of life, and there’s only one per cent of water in the world that we can drink.”
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According to a report by National Geographic, only 2.5 per cent of the world’s water is fresh, and only one per cent is easily accessible.
The women will march the length of the trip carrying a pail of water from the Shubenacadie and Miramichi Rivers, Dartmouth and a spring in Indian Brook – all bodies of water they’re praying to protect from harm.
They expect to walk 20 kilometres a day, stopping to sing, pray and teach ceremony at community centres and schools along the way.
“We’re feeling pretty good now that we’ve had our ceremony and talked about what we’re doing, and why we’re doing what we’re doing,” Bernard told Global News. “This is a ceremony that we’re on, the water walk is a ceremony.”
The first Wabanaki Water Walk in Nova Scotia took place in 2007 and has featured different bodies of water for protection. Similar walks take place all over Canada.