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Summer 2020

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Summer 2020

  • 7 min read

Quarterly Newsletter

Summer 2020

The latest news and updates on our programs.

An Anishinabek Perspective on Nibi (Water)

By: Ogamauh annag (Sue Chiblow)

Aniin, Boozhoo, Ogamauh annag qwe dishnecuz, jijauk dodem, Ketegaunzeebee donjeba, Anishinaabe, Ojibway indow. My English or status card name is Susan Bell Chiblow, most know me as Sue Chiblow and I was born and raised by my dad in Garden River First Nation with 4 brothers and 3 sisters.

Photo of a lake

I have raised my three beautiful children and continue to live with my husband, Glen Chiblow in GRFN. As a teenager, I lived with my Nokumis who told me I had to go to school to get an education so I could understand their ways and then come home to help my people. So that is what I did, I went to school and have recently went back to school to get my PhD with a focus on Anishinabek women and Nibi (water). 

I have always had a special relationship with water because I grew up surrounded by two rivers and as a child, those were our swimming pools, our fishing spots, and a place where I could sit and listen to the birds, the trees, and the wind by the rivers. I learnt to respect the water at a young age and understand how important water is for all life, the trees, the fish, the birds, and the animals. All of life needs water to live. 

The knowledge I have about water has been given to me by many different Indigenous Peoples because I have been very fortunate to work with and for them. I have been told that we have a different understanding of what water does and what water is. The western world believes water can be bought and sold, that it can be controlled, and that it can be poisoned; that it needs to be managed by humans. The Anishinaabek Peoples believe water is alive, it provides life and can take life, that women are the keepers of the waters because we carry babies in water and that water can heal. Many Anishinaabek Peoples also believe that water carries our ancestor’s memories and those memories are transferred from mother to child when the baby is in the water in the mother’s womb. When I participated in the Water Walks lead by Nokumis Josephine Mandamin, she talked about how the different lakes and rivers have different personalities and different water spirits, and we need to make offerings to the waters because we are the waters, water is life and if the waters are healthy then we are healthy. These are a few of the water teachings I have been given.  

First Nations Advisory Council

As a primarily non-Indigenous organization, our First Nations Advisory Council (FNAC) members provide valuable feedback on our programs and delivery in communities.

Through a four-part video series, we are highlighting the FNAC in our member’s own words about our relationships. Watch out for the next three to be released on our website and on social media in the coming weeks.

First Nations Advisory Council

Update on the Drinking Water Internship In Bimose

At the time of our last newsletter we were pivoting our Internship program to remote and interactive online programming. Now that our interns have a few months of online learning experience we have settled into a routine.

Each week, the interns receive a Mission Pack. It includes the week’s lesson, reflection questions that connect the week’s lesson to the work in the plant and review questions. Then during the week there are small group, or one on one, tutorial sessions with Water First staff. 

As we all know, living in isolation due to the risks of COVID-19 has its challenges. Each intern has had to navigate these challenges, while trying to balance the demands of the program in an online format. Due to COVID restrictions, some of the interns were unable to do the work placements in the water treatment plants. This was the aspect of the program that they were missing the most. We are excited to report that as of the end of June all but three of the interns are back at their work placements at their local water plant, where they are putting the theory they have been learning into practice. 

Thanks to our supporters, the Internship program in Bimose is expanding. Eight new interns will be starting in July on a fast track program delivered online. Jen Atkinson, our Director of Operations, explained that during the interview process the candidates expressed a keen interest in protecting and caring for water. They are interested in helping their communities address local challenges. “I anticipate a high motivation level and I look forward to them bringing new energy into the larger group overall.”


Digital Resource Packs from Youth Ed

Dive into water science with your kids this summer!

For many of our partners, the rest of the school year was delivered online.

Water First Intern Feature: Sunny Payash, Grassy Narrows First Nation

Sunny’s motivation to join the Water First Internship program was because he lost two nieces due to the mercury contamination in the English River.

Water is important to Sunny to help make it better for his community’s children, who are the future. He wants to help his community end its reliance on bottled water. He has enjoyed meeting new people and appreciates how learning more about water shows him just how important clean, safe water is to all life. “Even Mother Earth needs clean water.”

Water First Intern Feature: Sunny Payash, Grassy Narrows First Nation

In response, Water First developed digital water science learning packets, in use by our partner First Nations communities. These packets provide a way for teachers to engage students with relevant links to the curriculum. They involve hands-on water science and land-based activities, as well as relevant Indigenous cultural components.

Introduction to Watersheds Learn about our relationships to aki (Earth, land) and nibi (water).

Digital Water Journey Learn about the natural world and its processes through storytelling and seeking inspiration from the land.

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Water plant operator in the office