Saugeen Walk of Unity for Standing Rock Sioux Nation
Photos by Herman Roote

November 20, 2016

First Nations

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Marching from Saugeen First Nation toward the bridge

Meeting in the middle

Marching to Fisherman's Park

Saugeen First Nation Band Council have hosted a very successful Unity Walk in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation in their opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline in North and South Dakota. There were 300 people in total participating: 200 from Saugeen and Neyaashiinigmiing First Nations and 100 from across the region, who met at the Southampton bridge over the Saugeen River in friendship and to show support for protecting our water.

The Standing Rock Tribe has international support as Water Protectors acting against the pipeline and the resulting destruction of their burial grounds and threat to their water supply. Some of the participants in the Unity Walk have gone to Standing Rock in person, as directed by the Band Council, and a powerpoint presentation was shown at the Saugeen Shores Council meeting, where an invitation was issued to participate.

“I’m so proud of the way our communities united in support of our brothers and sisters in Standing Rock,” said organizer, Saugeen First Nation Band Councillor and Standing Rock visitor Sonya Roote. “It’s always been my belief that, every one of us is responsible to stand up against any injustice in the world. Today, we did just that!"

The afternoon walk began at the Aaron Roote Youth Centre, with a pipe ceremony to set the tone for the day. Protectors were part of a circle with the OPP and Saugeen Shores Police to help them keep everyone safe for the walk.

Bailey Roote

Participants were wearing blue tops for protecting water, along with red shirts for the protectors helping with the safety of the march. A wide variety of printed and homemade signs with slogans like “Standing With Standing Rock”, “#noDAPL”, and “Water is Life”, were proudly carried by participants. The Women’s Drum Group drummed on the walk from the Youth Centre, and GC Huston Drum Group drummed at St. Andrew’s Church and on the bridge. Dancers in regalia participated in the walk, including women in jingle dresses for healing. This was a peaceful event, with little traffic disruption, supported by the OPP and Saugeen Shores Police.

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The Saugeen First Nation delegates, including Chief Lester Anoquot of Saugeen First Nation and Greg Nadjiwon of Neyaashiinigmiing First Nation, met a delegation from Southampton at the middle of the bridge, where friendship gifts of sweetgrass, bracelets and maple syrup were exchanged.

The Drum Group from GC Huston sang a water song, and Band Councillor Ken Roote shared information as the MC. Former Chief Vernon Roote gave a prayer showing respect for the water and healing that needs to take place; both Chiefs sent messages about vigilance and protection, and Dan Russell, GC Huston’s Principal, shared what he was discussing with the students at the school, and the importance of the Seven Grandfathers teaching of Bravery and standing up for what is right.

Both groups moved to the north side of the river, and Elder Shirley John led a water ceremony for all to participate in, focusing on positive thoughts for the water and those protecting the water. Everyone was then bused back to the James Mason Centre, and photos and drone footage of the event from Jason Steele and Colin Field were shown during the meal. They were joined there by Saugeen Shores Mayor Mike Smith and Councillor Cheryl Grace to share the refreshments and solidarity.

Overall, the event was considered a success by all participants.

"We came together, we walked together and we stood together to show our Support for those on the frontlines in Standing Rock, North Dakota. This was Unity, our way to show solidary, to bring Awareness, Educate and Pray for our brothers & sisters that have their lives threatened as they fight the biggest fight of their lives, the fight for their treaties, rights, land, the Water,” said organizer and Saugeen First Nation Band Councillor Ken Roote. “This is reminder to all of us, we are responsible for Mother Earth to preserve and protect our future. From babies to elders, and everyone in between, I was so proud of everyone that participated on Tuesday, November 15th, the National Day in Support of Standing Rock. It was my honour."

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Sunday, November 20, 2016