Reconciliation through the lens of our local watersheds


Outside the Iroquoian long-house at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology on October 14
Outside the Iroquoian long-house at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology on October 14

This fall, KAIROS brought together close to 200 people in workshops across the country to talk about reconciliation through the lens of our local watersheds. Through a series of presentations, small group discussion, mapping, and active reflection, participants built understanding of local ecological issues, Indigenous knowledge and perspectives on water, and how we might renew relationships with one other and with the watershed.

Each location offered a unique experience and opportunity to learn and reflect on our journey towards reconciliation. In Tatamagouche, we stood on the shores of the French River and offered a water bundle to the river while Grandmother Dorene Bernard of Sipekne’katik First Nation sang the Anishinaabe Nibi Water Song. In London, we stood in an Iroquoian longhouse and imagined what it would be like to live in the watershed thousands of years ago. In Halifax, participants walked through the urban watershed, making stops along the way to discuss environmental law, mining and migrant justice. In Regina, we stood on the shores of Wascana Lake and offered tobacco to the waters, while Cindy Worm of Cowessess First Nation sang a song in honour of the lands and the waters taught to her by her father. These elements of connection and ceremony were intended to draw us ever more closely to the waters that we call relative.

Taking to the woods for a walking reflection at the Crieff Hills Retreat Centre on October 28

Taking to the woods for a walking reflection at the Crieff Hills Retreat Centre on October 28

Whether on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean or in the middle of the prairies, a common threat connects all the watersheds: corporate interests that continue to threaten the health of the water and of communities. In Tatamagouche and Halifax, participants learned from Grandmother Dorene about her community’s struggle to protect the health of the Shubenacadie River from potential damage from the Alton Natural Gas project. At First Nations University in Treaty 4 territory, Enbridge’s Line 3 was on the minds of all participants, who were concerned about the preservation of sacred lands and the risk that a pipeline incident would bring devastation to the local watersheds. In Wellington County, we met mere kilometres away from a large-scale aggregate excavation operation and one of Nestlé’s single-use water bottling plants. The groundwater and bedrock continue to be threatened by these activities.

The workshops connected participants with local knowledge and opportunities for further learning and action. For some this was just the beginning, for others it was an opportunity to delve deeper into the issues. In the coming year, KAIROS will continue to facilitate these conversations in different locations across the country, bringing together Indigenous voices with those who are concerned about the watershed and all the life it supports. KAIROS will also provide resources for people to learn about how we can live in better relation with one another and how to take individual and collective action to protect the watershed.

The words of Doreen Day’s Water Song came up again and again at the different workshops, a prayer of thanksgiving reminding us and calling us to be a better relative of water:

Nibi, Gizaagi-igo
Water, we love you
Gimiigwechiwenimigo
We thank you
Gizhawenimigo
We respect you

Learn more about KAIROS’ Reconciliation in the Watershed workshops

Participants with Grandmother Dorene Bernard at the Halifax workshop on October 14

Participants with Grandmother Dorene Bernard at the Halifax workshop on October 14


Filed in: Ecological Justice

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