Beautiful spring weather greeted the students at St. Benedict Catholic school May 5 as they performed an Anishinaabe-led ceremonial water walk to raise awareness of the importance and need for protection of water.
St. Benedict’s Indigenous support worker and staff member of the school’s Diversity Club, Shannon Agowissa, led students from the school to a water fill station near the Gerry McCroy Countryside Sports Complex. There, they filled a ceremonial copper vessel with water and sang a traditional water song.
“We are here today because we want to celebrate water. I feel like water is a special thing that should be respected,” said Sophia Efere, a member of the St. Benedict’s Diversity Club.
The club received a grant from the Jane Goodall Institute to support an information day prior to the water walk with speakers from the City of Greater Sudbury, the Junction Creek Stewardship Committee and Long Lake Stewardship, the goal of which was to teach students about wastewater and how the city treats drinking water.
“We’ve been trying to focus on inclusion and things that bring us together and water naturally connects us all,” said Agowissa.
The two-day event also raised awareness about some First Nations that don’t have access to clean water and the roles and responsibilities Indigenous women take on as caretakers of the water.
The school’s diversity club planned the water walk on May 5 as it is recognized as National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirited People.
“It’s about the Indigenous women of this territory and the disproportionate amounts of violence that they’re subjected to. Today, we are thinking about the calls for action required to support Indigenous women,” said Agowissa.
In support of ending the water crisis in Canada the Diversity Club is raising funds to donate to the Water First program, an organization dedicated to working with Indigenous communities to resolve water challenges.
Annie Duncan is a journalism student at Loyalist College. She is on a work placement at Sudbury.com.