St. Lawrence River, USA - April Adams-Phillips

My name is April Adams-Phillips, I’m from Akwesasne. I’m currently a district chief for the Mohawks of Akwesasne. The name of my water body is the St. Lawrence River. I have a generational relationship with the river. It’s been around my family for many, many years. It’s been a big part of Akwesasne. We’ve lived off the water. My brother traps off the water. We fish, swim, enjoy leisure times there. I can look out my window at my home and see the St. Lawrence River. To me, it’s the most beautiful sight to see every day. I appreciate it, I’m thankful for it.

My grandparents lived off that water. My grandmother used to take that water and make her dyes with it for her baskets. My grandparents used to tell me the stories of being able to put a rope on a bucket and put the bucket down into the water and bring up a bucket full of fish. It was just so simple. It’s something that’s I think is so special because when I think of that water it’s a part of me because to me it flows through your body, it flows through everything you do, it’s just one big glorious part of everything. I think not just for myself, but when I think of everyone – that’s where we originally came from.

When your mother carried you in their womb, you came from water, you floated in water. You came onto the Earth and that’s what takes care of you. So I think it’s a very important part of everything for everyone if they really take the time and they think about it. Water held you. It was the first one to hold you. The first thing to take care of you.

I’m on the border of the US and Canada next to Cornwall, Ontario. We are between Montreal and Ottawa so we straddle the border. So this initiative I think is one of greatest things to have because we all share the same common ground. We all share the common water. I think what you’re doing here today is very brilliant and I think this would be so special if you could bring it back to the kids and go to the schools and ask them. Then even maybe give them that opportunity to go to the water because I think that’s where you really have to open up their eyes, to bring them to the source, to that experience, as another part of your project.

To me, it established us. It’s been there, it’s been there even before we got there. It’s always something that sustained us. It will sustain us. I think it’s very important that people acknowledge the fact that we’ll go away but it should remain, and we have to take care of it and we have to make sure that we give thanks to it and appreciate it. I think that at the same time we don’t always come to that sense of the importance of it. I think overall to put the importance of it is more to put it as priceless because once it’s gone, how do we get it back? I don’t know. That’s the other thing, I don’t know how to return it if we lose it.

Thomas Kierstead
April Adams-Phillips

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