Saugeen First Nation Water Walk raises awareness of Indigenous concerns

On Saturday March 20th, 2021 youth and community members held a ceremonial prayer Water Walk from Saugeen First Nation to Sauble to support community healing and wellness.

                               Walkers follow the Community Eagle Staff bearer believed to protect life

Over the past few years, many First Nations communities have been disproportionately impacted by opioid related overdoses, substance abuse issues and suicide. This issue has only been exacerbated by the ongoing global pandemic, where social isolation and lack of access to life-promoting services have increased the cases of overdoses and suicide across the board.

“It has been a very tough year,” said 28-year-old Wassekom Niin (Eli George), and everyone has had to do so much to adapt and many people on the margins of society have been left behind.”

In July, 2020 Wassekom Niin paddled Lake Huron’s shore from Ipperwash, south of Grand Bend to Saugeen Shores, up the Bruce Peninsula and around down into Georgian Bay and Collingwood.  “Water sustains us and is all important.”

The Water Walk on Saturday began with a sunrise ceremonial fire lighting at the Aaron Roote Youth Centre.  While many elders were unable to participate in the long walk, they took part in the sunrise ceremony, sharing stories of resilience, community care and love.

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The walk was intended to be a message of hope for Indigenous peoples suffering during these times, as well as celebrating the importance of Water leading up to World Water Day on March 22nd.