UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds

'We are all of water'

Meet Josephine Mandamin, Water Walker

By Carolyn Pogue

I was anxious to meet the Elder known as the Water Walker at the Sacred Water Circle in Peterborough, Ont. And Grandmother Josephine Mandamin did not disappoint. She is gentle and passionate, soft-spoken and strong. She was among the First Nation Elders from the Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Peru, Columbia, Arizona and South Dakota invited by Curve Lake First Nation for a three-day conference recently. It was supported by Trent University, Fleming College, Faith and the Common Good/Greening Sacred Spaces and Green Up Peterborough, among other groups.

Josephine is from Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve on Manitoulin Island, Ont. Alarmed by changes to water quality in Lake Huron, she initiated The Mother Earth Water Walks in 2003. She began by leading walks around the perimeter of all five Great Lakes. She next walked the length of the St. Lawrence River. These days, she could be anywhere, walking, teaching, performing ceremonies to love, bless and thank water. She reminds us that the planet is more water than solid matter — just as we are.

All told, it took Josephine 36 days to traverse the 2,000 km-perimeter of Lake Superior. She walked more than 12 to 15 hours every day. Such is her determination to speak for the waters of Turtle Island. So far, she has walked nearly 20,000 km for water.

Josephine Mandamin. Photo by Carolyn Pogue
Josephine Mandamin. Photo by Carolyn Pogue
As she continues to walk for water, she continues to dream of other ways to heal Mother Earth. She asks for a worldwide four-day fast to give the planet time to catch her breath. At the Sacred Water Circle, Josephine asked that I relay her statement as far as possible. So I invite you, through Facebook, email, snail mail, storytelling — or whatever means you have — to tell others about her World Fast for Mother Earth between June 20 and June 23. Consider participating, yourselves, also. After all, we must do something to support her healing.

Mother Earth is not merely a sweet way to name the planet, it describes Josephine's and others' real relationship with her. “We have a duty,” she says. “The world has a duty to protect our Mother Earth and her life blood — our life blood — the water."

During noon hour on June 23, our church sanctuary in Calgary will be open. We will show a YouTube video of Josephine. In a sharing circle, we will speak of our connection with water and participate in prayer.

Some years ago, I wrote a poem about Mother Earth's gifts on the banks of the Mississippi River. Here's an excerpt:

Make prayers for the life of the rivers
Make prayers for the creeks and the streams
make prayers to the Holy Myst’ry
Make prayers for Earth Mother’s dreams.

Fall down on your knees by the water
Fall down on the muck, sand or slate
Fall down in humility, hope and love
And pray that it’s not too late.

Author's photo
Carolyn Pogue is a longtime Observer contributor. New posts of The Pogue Blog will appear on the first and third Thursday of the month. For more information on Carolyn Pogue, visit www.carolynpogue.ca..
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!
Promotional Image


David Wilson%


by David Wilson

If statues could talk

Promotional Image


ObserverDocs: Stolen Mother

by Observer Staff

The daughter and adoptive mother of one of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women share their story

Promotional Image


July 2017

From far and wide

by Various Writers

Meet 11 immigrants who are putting down new roots


June 2017

A suitcase for Cuba

by Christopher Levan

You’ll find more than giveaway toiletries and hand-me-downs in the writer's luggage. Each carefully chosen gift offers a glimpse into the lives of Cubans today.


June 2017


by Kristy Woudstra

Up to half a million people are living in Canada without official status. The ‘sanctuary city’ movement is growing, but the fear of deportation persists.


June 2017

Resisting genocide

by Sally Armstrong

In August 2014, ISIS attacked Iraq’s Yazidis, slaughtering thousands and forcing women and girls into sexual slavery. Today, the survivors are fighting for their ancient way of life.


April 2017

Dear Grandkids

by Various Writers

Six acclaimed Canadian authors write letters from the heart


March 2017

Called to resist

by Paul Wilson

Liberal Christians in the United States test their faith against a demagogue

Promotional Image