Anishinabe woman from Kitchener to walk length of Grand River
'Our teachings tell us that water is sacred' says Mary Anne Caibaiosai as she prepares for her walk
Mary Anne Caibaiosai is going the extra mile to show her community how sacred water is: 174 miles — or 280 kilometres — to be exact.
The Anishinabe elder is walking the length of the Grand River, from the river's source near Dundalk, Ont. to Lake Erie. The return trip will take two weeks.
"Our teachings that tell us that water is sacred, it has life and without water we wouldn't be here," Caibaiosai told CBC K-W.
Inspired by 3-month walk
She was inspired to lead the All Nations Grand River Water Walk after taking part in a similar walk last year.
That walk lasted three months and took travellers on a journey that started by Lake Superior, travelled around all the great lakes and ended at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River.
"I was amazed at how transformative that walk was. It totally changed my whole perspective about water and how important it is," she said.
"I wanted that feeling, that spirit, that change for other people to feel."
The 2017 journey was led by Caibaiosai's inspiration, Josephine Mandemin, who she describes as the original water walker, along with Caibaiosai's deceased sister, to whom she has dedicated this walk.
What happens during the walk?
The walk will start on Sept. 15 with a ceremony, including a water song and prayers.
After the ceremony, Caibaiosai said a copper bucket or pail is dipped into the source of the river. Once it is filled with water, two people begin the walk.
"The man will carry the eagle staff. His role is to walk next to the woman and protect the woman," Caibaiosai said. "She is walking to protect the water in the pail and he is walking to protect her."
Caibaiosai said this is the first of a four year commitment walk the shores of the Grand River.