A group of First Nations activists in Treaty 3 territory in northwestern Ontario are walking 125 kilometres of the proposed Energy East pipeline route to demonstrate their opposition to TransCanada's plan to convert the natural gas pipeline to transport oil.

The walk began at Eagle Lake First Nation, near Dryden, Ont., on Monday and is expected to arrive at Shoal Lake 39 First Nation, west of Kenora, Ont. on Saturday.

Chrissy Swain, from Grassy Narrows First Nation, said she is concerned about the safety of the pipeline and the potential any leaks will harm lakes and rivers.

"We have the small percentage of clean water that's left in this world here in this area," she said.

Swain said the issue is especially important to her, a mother of three small children who has seen the impact of mercury contamination at Grassy Narrows.

Anishinaabe Water Walk

"Our Anishinaabe laws and values tell us everything we need to know about Energy East, that is why we say no," says Shoal Lake 39 Chief Fawn Wapioke (left). (sbmitted by Alex Hundert)

"It's my responsibility also as an Anishinaabe woman to protect that water for my children so that they can have life too," she said.

'Engagement' agreement

A news release from TransCanada on July 29 announced the company had an "engagement" agreement with Grand Council Treaty 3.

A First Nations working group will now review TransCanada's application with the National Energy Board.

In the news release, Treaty 3 Grand Chief Warren White said the agreement does not mean that Treaty 3 supports the project, only that they will "share information and listen to the people."

At least one Treaty 3 chief is openly opposed to the pipeline. Shoal Lake 39 First Nation Chief Fawn Wapioke is taking part in the water walk.

"Water is life," she said in a news release at the start of the walk. "Our Anishinaabe laws and values tell us everything we need to know about Energy East that is why we say no."