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Water is Not a Noun
Linda Cauchy
Métis Women's Circle
April 25, 2022

As the ice breaks up and the small lake at which I live begins another busy season, my thoughts turn to water. Think about it for a moment. How have you seen water over the past seasons? I've observed that it freezes, thaws, falls, flows, ripples, cascades, pools, stands still, reflects, and most importantly, it gives. Water gives life to all living creatures. That's a lot of action! An Indigenous cosmology sees this act of giving as reciprocal; water gives, we give back through our collective actions of care and protection.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary the verb "to give" connotes a rather long list of meanings, among them: to put into the possession of another for his or her use: (1) to administer as a sacrament (2) to administer as a medicine (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/give). I particularly like this description as it conjures notions of the highest importance. Water teachings are celebrated in ceremony and song whereby the importance of water and our duty of care are passed along. Not only is water medicine itself, it acts as a host for many other medicines. Water is a dynamic entity generously giving without asking for anything in return. As indigenous women and water keepers, we must be the voice of water and do its asking. This understanding is shared by Elder Ann Wilson from the Rainy River First Nation. She says, "Everyone has a responsibility to care for the water. Women, however, carry the responsibility to talk for the water" (Anishnaabe-Kwe, Traditional Knowledge, and Water Protection by Deborah McGregor, https://cws.journals.yorku.ca/index.php/cws/article/download/22109/20763/0).

A deliberate lived relationship with water leads us to find the words we need to honour and talk for water. But actions can often speak louder than words. The Great Lakes Mother Earth Spirit Walk was initiated almost 20 years ago by Anishinaabe Nokomis Josephine Mandamin (from Wikwemikong Unceeded Territory) as a walk around Lake Superior to raise awareness of the dire conditions of water and the need to protect water. Nokomis Mandamin says that, "as women, we are the carrier of the water. We carry life for the people…we are telling people that we will go any lengths for the water..." (Wikwemikong's Josephine Mandamin honoured for conservation excellence, CBC News posted February 26, 2016). Since that time the Walk has grown and Water Walkers have taken their actions to all the Great Lakes and beyond. Perhaps you have participated in one of the Walks. In 2017, to honour of the work of Nokomis Mandamin, Anishinaabe author and illustrator Joanne Robertson wrote the book "The Water Walker" (https://secondstorypress.ca/kids/the-water-walker), telling the story and sharing the teachings of the Water Walk. Through her work, Robertson continues to spread the message of our collective responsibility to honour and care for water to primary school aged children and to anyone of any age.

If we can perceive water differently, then we can treat it differently. To view water as a static noun diminishes its importance and value; it appears mono-dimensional. But seen as a multi-dimensional entity, as ever changing and ever giving, we cannot ignore its importance and value; nor our responsibility to its care and health. Water is our lifeblood, Mother Earth's blood. Actively engage with water, you'll find your words so you may talk for the water. Put down your tobacco and thank it for all it gives so freely.




April 29, 2022 To Apologize
April 28, 2022 Developing Healthy Water Routines
April 25, 2022 Water is Not a Noun
May 12, 2021 The Flower Beadwork People
May 1, 2021 Good Riddance Beyak
April 1, 2021 Another Day in Paradise
March 1, 2021 All My Relations Matter More Now Than Ever
January 21, 2021 "Look Out The Window, Quick"


The purpose of Trade Beads is to inform and inspire our readers within the overall theme of Indigenous experience. Broadly, themes will follow the four seasons, but posts are not limited by these categories. We consider submissions by students, artists and community members at large. TradeBeads is supported by the Métis Women's Circle, whose mission statement is as follows;
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