Lake Ontario, ON - Barbara Anderson
Barbara Anderson talks about her love for Lake Ontario and Lake Huron.
She speaks about a ceremony she attended called, 'Pray for the Lakes' and how the traditions and rituals during the ceremony for water has positively impacted her, and her vision for the Great Lakes:
I grew up close to water on the Ottawa River and water has always been important to me. My mother’s maiden name is Waters and I’ve worked in water policy for a long time.
This waterbody is important to me as well as Lake Huron because I had a very important experience. I guess I should say Lake Huron may be waterbody, but I live on Lake Ontario so it’s really all of the Great Lakes.
Several years ago, in September, 3 years ago - I had an experience on Lake Huron where I was invited to a ceremony called ‘Pray for the Lakes’. So I went up there from Toronto and there was a small group of people, just about 20. Just the night before some First Nations women had come with a little package. They’d just found out about this event the night before and they came. They conducted a water ceremony for us. So we all stepped into the water and we followed what they told us to do in terms of clearing out left side and clearing our right side and they had traditional instruments. So we had a ceremony for water and celebrated a water ceremony for that lake. Subsequently the next year I went down to Toronto and had that ceremony on Lake Ontario.
So I really feel, I have a vision for the rest of the Great Lakes, that we would encircle all of the Great Lakes with water ceremonies in all communities and maybe even have it all at the same time. So that the First Nations women could lead us and we could all, industry, children, grandmothers - that’s the other important thing, I am a grandmother - could have this ceremony to celebrate the Great Lakes, so I have a real vision about that following my experience.
We started in a circle and everyone kind of gave their intentions or thoughts about the water. Then we all moved to the water and the First Nations ladies had some instruments. So each person stepped into the water and as I say we repeated words and we didn’t get all wet, just kind of ceremoniously bringing water on one side and the other side and then we had some chanting and singing. Then actually there was her husband there and he actually did a small ceremony for the land, so there was water and the land. So it was an amazing, amazing introduction to the sacredness of the water from the First Nations point of view, I would just like everybody to experience that and I think it will help us move forward to protect the Great Lakes.
So I kind of imagine a ribbon going around the Great Lakes, like a necklace of people celebrating and honouring the Great Lakes the way they do, or the way all of us will in the future.