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Joseph Mandamin waits for the arrival of Edward George, who is paddling alongside the Water Walkers to raise awareness for water issues in the Great Lakes. 

Across Turtle Island Canada Day 2017 marked a day of Indigenous celebration of cultural survival, protest, and ceremony from over 150 years of colonization. In order for Canada to have become the wealthy G8 country it is today- treaties upholding Indigenous land rights were broken, Indigenous people were starved onto reservations, and Indigenous children were forced into residential schools. Over time Indigenous voices were silenced. Well not anymore.

To confront the mainstream Canada Day 150 celebrations, Idle No More sent out a call for A National Day of Action to “Unsettle Canada 150” in support of Indigenous self-determination over land territories and resources. In Toronto, Idle No More unsettled the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Carolyn Bennett’s annual picnic hosted at the Spadina Museum. “We’re here to reframe the Canada 150 celebrations that Canadians are so excited about,” said Idle No More activist, Tori Cress (Anishinaabe). Demands from the group include implementing the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to actions. “We demand change and a Nation to Nation relationship,”explained Cress. “As long as they only deal with Assembly of First Nations, there is no Nation to Nation relationship, it’s just Settler State to Settler State relationship”

Elsewhere in Toronto, grandmother Josephine Mandamin and The Sacred Water Walkers and Paddlers held a ceremony to honour and give thanks to the water on Ward’s Island. The ceremony was not in protest rather the Walkers and Paddlers wanted to raise awareness about a petition that they started on the House of Commons website: Petition E-1030. “We’re hoping that others will start to think about the water the way Anishinaabe people do,” explained one of the paddlers, Edward George (Anishinaabe). “We started a petition to begin this conversation about giving legal personhood to the Great Lakes, it’s been done in four other countries and think it could be done here.”

MUSKRAT Magazine’s Erica Commanda joined the actions and walk and here are some highlights: All photos by Erica Commanda.


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About The Author

Erica Commanda

Born in Toronto, Erica Commanda (Algonquin/Ojibwe) grew up in the small community of Pikwakanagan. From there she moved across Canada living in Ottawa, Vancouver and now Toronto, working in the bar/hospitality industry, mastering the art of listening to stories from her regulars while slinging and spilling drinks (at them or to them). And now through a series of random decisions and events in life she is on a journey discovering and mastering her own knack for storytelling as Associate Editor for MUSKRAT Magazine.

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