Youth Water Walk – a message of hope and healing

On Saturday March 20th, 2021 youth and community members begin a ceremonial prayer walk from the Saugeen River throughout the community to support community healing and wellness.

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.

Water Walk organizer Tania Ritchie says that,  “Saugeen is in a crisis of grief caused by substance abuse and the impacts of colonialism but mostly because we don’t know where to turn; there is no one untouched by the losses we’ve experienced and hardly any time to grieve only to find out we’ve lost another. We all need a reason to hope and continue on. Especially our emerging leaders, the youth. As a Water Walker, I know the water can heal. The water gives us real hope. It has helped me on my healing journey. I believe spirit called me to help bring this ceremony together so we can start the healing that is needed in our community.”

Saugeen First Nation Youth & Community respond by promoting life, culture, identity and bringing forward a message of hope.

The water walk is intended to raise awareness about the importance of Water just in time for World Water Day on March 22, as well as sharing stories of resilience, community care, and lateral love.

The day’s activities include a sunrise and fire-lighting ceremony at the Aaron Roote Memorial Youth Centre, a walk with the community eagle staff, and Youth sharing their stories. The Walk will conclude at the Sauble Beach entrance.

All activities will adhere to strict Covid-19 protocols and is in full compliance with current federal, provincial, and regional COVID-19 regulations and will continue to operate on the best available information.

“This walk is intended to be a message of hope to Indigenous peoples suffering during these times, as well as celebrating the importance of Water,” adds Ritchie.