Canada | Environment

The Dominion: Elders meet for 5th annual Keepers of the Water

"Words flowed like water from Indigenous Elders gathered at the fifth annual Keepers of the Water gathering in Lac Brochet, Manitoba, this August.

The gathering of the Keepers—an organization made up of of First Nations, environmentalists, and concerned people who want to protect the Arctic Ocean drainage basin—was hosted by the Northlands Denesuline First Nation. It stressed the importance of unity and action to protect waters from being polluted and poisoned.

With a population of fewer than a thousand people, Lac Brochet can be reached only by airplane or by water, and a delegation from Hatchet Lake, SK, took four days to canoe to the gathering. There were also various scholars, representatives, and leaders, including MLA Gerard Jennissen, who said “Water is a horrible enemy but a great friend.” Throughout the gathering, participants shared their thoughts and knowledge about the preciousness of water and how it might be better protected from human destructiveness.

Sam Gargan, who is Grand Chief of the Dehcho in the Northwest Territories and a co-founder of the first Keepers of the Water gathering in 2006, explained how De means river, and Ne means land, together making the word Dene, which signifies how the Dene people are defined by their reciprocal relationship with land and water."

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Water is All of Us (The Dominion 8/24)

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