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Wikwemikong elder to head Anishinabek water commission

NEWS RELEASE UNION OF ONTARIO INDIANS ************************* Anishinabek Nation appoints Women's Water Commission SAULT STE.



************************* Anishinabek Nation appoints Women's Water Commission

SAULT STE. MARIE (March 24, 2007) - Today, Grand Council Chief John Beaucage addressed the Anishinabek Nation Building Conference in Sault Ste. Marie, pledging to do more to contribute to the wellbeing of the environment and in particular to Great Lakes water.

Grand Council Chief John Beaucage has appointed an Anishinabek Women's Water Commission to advise the Union of Ontario Indians on water issues and Great Lakes management issues.

"Our work with regard to the water and Great Lakes co-management will not focus only on policy and science. Through our Women's Water Commission, the beliefs that water is living and spoken for by our women will now be reflected in Ontario's management regime," said Grand Council Chief Beaucage.

"We need to ensure that First Nations, especially our women, maintain their role as stewards of the water and give a voice for our most precious resource," added Beaucage.

The Anishinabek Women's Water Commission will advise the Union of Ontario Indians on all aspects related to the management of the Great Lakes.

It is expected that Grand Council Chief Beaucage and [Minister Responsible for Native Affairs] David Ramsay will sign a co-management agreeement on Tuesday, March 27 to ensure First Nation participation in all decision-making that will impact the Great Lakes basin.

More importantly, the newly created commission will play a leadership role in raising the awareness of Great Lakes water and impacts to its quality and quantity. The Women's Water Commission will also share their tremendous traditional knowledge and teachings about water as they undertake their work across the Anishinabek Nation.

Josephine Mandamin [shown at left], an elder from Wikwemikong Unceded Nation, will serve as founding chief commissioner of the Anishinabek Women's Water Commission.

"Water is a great uniter and I know this historic step will begin to unite all nations because we all share an equal concern: the water's future," said Josephine Mandamin. "Hearing Mother Earth cry about how ill she is and how she is having a hard time feeding her children is a reminder to us all that our women feel the same way too. We must unite in this monumental task."

Mandamin established the Mother Earth Water Walk, leading walks around Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron and Lake Ontario.

Her group will walk around Lake Erie in 2007.

Mary Deleary of Muncey and April Jones of London will also serve as founding commissioners.

Both women are traditional teachers whose extensive aboriginal traditional knowledge focuses on the water and women's role as caretakers on the water.

"My commitment as Anishinabe-Kwe (native woman) to ensuring the sustainability for life for our future generations guides much of my life," said Mary Deleary. "Our 'Sacred Water' is the very essence of what will continue to sustain our life."

"During my lifetime, I have seen the extreme changes that have occurred regarding the sustainability of one of our most precious resources, Mide-waboo," said April Jones. "I continue to learn and to help in any way that I can regarding the protection of the water, because it is evident that the very future of our children and all of creation is dependent upon it."

The Anishinabek Nation incorporated the Union of Ontario Indians (UOI) as its secretariat in 1949.

The UOI is a political advocate for 42-member First Nations across Ontario.

The Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.