Wabanaki Water Convergence ceremony

This weekend, I had the opportunity to travel to Fredericton, New Brunswick to participate in the Wabanaki Water Convergence ceremony, which took place where the waters of the Saint John River (WOLASTOQ) converge with the tide’s end.  The importance of this point in the river is beautifully described in the invitation to the ceremony:

Alma and Elizabeth and youth

Alma Brooks,Wabanaki elder and convergence ceremony organizer (right), and ally Elizabeth Blaney are assisted by youth in the closing ceremony to break the fast.

WOLASTOQ (the beautiful river) IS THE LIFE GIVER for all living things within Wolastoqiyik Territory.  She is the main artery that carries the blood of the Earth in a never ending cycle for moment to moment, day to day, season to season; since time immemorial. “Water” Every drop of water that touches the land from the headwaters of every tributary, running rapidly into the Wolastoq, making its way out to sea.  Then it turns and comes back up the Wolastoq, and converges at EkPahak; ‘the end of the tide’.

It was a powerful ceremony, representing the convergence of so many elements and natural events – water from the river, ocean and sky (it rained continuously all weekend), the high tide and a full moon (in fact it was a super moon because the moon was the closest it would be to the earth all year).  There was also the convergence of many people and their stories from the Wabanaki and other nations as well as from their allies.   As Alma Brooks, a Wabanaki elder and lead organizer said, “The ceremony had to take place that weekend.  There was no other time when all those elements would converge.”  It was also a healing ceremony, not only for the lands and water of the Eastern Gateway, but for all of North America.   According to Wabanaki teachings:

Our prophecies tell us that it is our responsibility as Wabanaki, the people of the dawn, to initiate the healing of the lands and waters of the Eastern Gate. The East is the place of first contact and it is the place where the first blood was spilled on this land. The healing of these lands and waters will be instrumental in cleansing the trauma that is held by the lands of North America. We invite people from all races and all cultures to join us in this sacred ceremony as we come together to bring healing to the land and waters of the Eastern Gate.

It rained continuously and relentlessly before, during and after the ceremony.  “It is a water convergence ceremony and mother nature is  letting  us have it! “ said Alma.  Throughout the ceremony we were reminded of the presence and the power of water by the river, the rising tide, the sound of the rain on the tents and the canopy above use, and the rainwater in our boots.

Despite the rains, about 75 people participated in the ceremony offering stories, poems, songs and prayers.  I had the opportunity to talk about KAIROS Our Waters Our Lives campaign and many people signed the petition.  I was also given some waters from the Wolastoq to bring to the KAIROS water action in Ottawa.

I  returned home deeply inspired and  grateful to Alma Brooks and the other women and men who had organized the ceremony,  and with strengthened  resolve to support First Nations and community initiatives to protect water and  to work to repeal dangerous legislation such as that within Ominbus bills C-38 and C-45 which threaten Indigenous rights and environmental protection.

Filed in: Gender Justice/Women of Courage

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