I first met Biidaasige-Ba on the 2010 Rice Lake Water Walk. It was my first full Water Walk: 135 kms in three days. Liz Osawamick, Shirley Williams, and Dorothy Taylor had invited me to “Walk for the Water;” I had little understanding of the spiritual nature of the Water Walk, approaching it more like it was a physical endeavour. I wanted to walk the whole 135 kms without getting into a vehicle and I did along with Liz. Biidaasige-Ba rode with Shirley in her car. I can still hear the crunch of the gravel as they shadowed us from behind, keeping an ever watchful eye on the Water. “You sure can Walk,” she said to me on one of our rest stops, with a big smile. I was shy, with little self-esteem. Her gentle words of encouragement washed over me, lifting my Spirit.
Her kindness and dedication to the Water along with Liz and Shirley’s inspired me to volunteer on the organizing committee of
Nibi Emosawaadamajig, partner to the Sacred Water Circle headed by Dorothy Taylor. The two organizations were the driving force behind the Kawartha Lakes Water Walks. Biidaasige-Ba joined almost every year. As I walked for the Water, I entered into relationship with Biidaasige-Ba, her husband Andrew, Shirley, Liz, and Dorothy as well as other Anishinaabeg, but I also entered into a relationship with the Water.
Biidaasige-Ba always said the movement, first, has to be about the Water. As a fourth degree Mide-Kwe from Three Fires Lodge, she immersed herself in the teachings of the Water – she lived the teachings in a deeply, profound way and she “walked the talk” as she always used to say.
Below are some photo galleries featuring her from various Water Walks I was a part of – she always used to get me to do the photos on the Walks as part of the permanent record. I hope you enjoy them in honour of her and her love for Nibi.
2015 Sacred Water Walk & 2017 For the Earth and Water Walk
List of Videos Highlighting Josephine-Ba Mandamin and her dedication to Nibi:
- Mother Earth Water Walk
- Josephine Mandamin Speech, 2011
- The Anishinaabe Woman Who Walked for Water Rights
- Water Journey Trailer
- Nokomis Josephine-Ba Mandamin – Anishinaabe Water-Walker, Elder, Teacher & Leader
- Sacred Water Walks
- History Week 2020: Grandmother Water Walker
- Ojibway Grandmother Recounts Walk Around the Great Lakes
- Water Ethic: Curt Meine in Conversation with Josephine-Ba Mandamin
- Grandmother Josephine-Ba Mandamin Speaks, Great Lakes Commons
- Tracing the Enormity of the Great Lakes: By Foot
- Nohkomis Josephine-Ba Mandamin
- Josephine-Ba Mandamin, the Water Walker – A Prayer opening the NYC Climate Convergence
- This Elder is a Water Protector, Idle No More
- Smoke Signals: Josephine-Ba Mandamin
- Memories – this link to Christina Perri’s A Thousand Wishes is with this slideshow.
I think it is important to be accountable and show that Biidaasige-Ba trusted me in relation to the documentation of the Water Walks; she granted me permission in 2015 (see below) for a website I was going to create back then. Her husband Andrew Mandamin, Liz Osawamick, Shirley Ida Williams, and Joanne Robertson (aka Twin aka the eye in the sky aka the behind the scenes mover and shaker of the Water Walks) have also gone through this website. I wanted to honour their knowledge as my mentors and ensure they were comfortable with the content.