Northern Ontario water walkers want to protect sacred resource
SUDBURY -- Over 20 people are taking part in a 135 kilometre water walk from the Greater Sudbury community of Garson to Spanish, Ont., to raise awareness about protecting the waters of Junction Creek.
Junction Creek winds its way through Greater Sudbury, flowing into the Vermilion River, the Spanish River, and, ultimately, Lake Huron.
Water walkers are making their way west along Highway 17 carrying water in a copper pail in a continuous, COVID-19 bubble, relay-style system. The walk is to draw attention to the need to respect, honour and rehabilitate Junction Creek.
"Most people don't realize that Junction Creek flows into Lake Huron. I am thinking about it and I am like 'ok, so you have fish -- a lot of people enjoy fish along here -- all of that garbage that is in Junction Creek is going to be in the fish that you are eating,'" said Tasha Beeds, the group's lead water walker.
When the walkers take a break, they hold a touch-down ceremony to honour the water resting.
"Just to ensure that people, you know, understand about the water and how important and how sacred the water is. Because we walk for the seven generations and beyond," said Liz Osawamick, one of the group's water walkers.
Water walks have been taking place over the past 20 years to raise awareness about protecting the resource all over the world.
"Water is very important because it's a gift from the Creator. It's one of the things that has been given to us as people. It's a gift to the women because we are the life-givers," Elder Shirley Williams-Pheasant said.
The walk started in Garson Wednesday and will end in the community of Spanish over the weekend.
"The women are the carriers of the water. The carriers of the water, they represent life, right? It's just like we as women are the only doorway through which life can enter. So it's echoing that, we are carrying life," Beeds said.
Organizers said the walk will wrap up Sunday with a private ceremony at the residential school in Spanish to honour survivors and the children who never made it home.