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ONWA at 2023 UN World Water Conference

Updated: Mar 24, 2023

ONWA is attending the 2023 United Nations World Water Conference!

 

Ontario Native Women's Association Mother Earth Strategy

The United Nations website, featuring the Water Action Agenda Commitment made by ONWA
The United Nations website, featuring the Water Action Agenda Commitment made by ONWA

The United Nations asked for clear commitments, pledges and actions, across all sectors, industries and interests, uniting nations, stakeholders and professionals.


ONWA's Mother Earth Strategy Water Action Agenda Commitment was accepted by the UN.


 



Highlights from the 2023 UN World Water Conference

March 22 - 25


 

A grim timeline for climate change outlined in landmark United Nations report


 


The voices of Indigenous women must inform and lead the conversations around climate change and environmental justice.


 

Cora McGuire-Cyrette   ONWA Executive Director
Cora McGuire-Cyrette, ONWA Executive Director

Protecting Water, Protecting Life

March 21, Commentary


"By coming together, we can walk forward in a good way. We all have a responsibility to protect Mother Earth and our sacred water; in doing so we protect life."

– Cora McGuire-Cyrette, Executive Director, ONWA



 

Hummingbird carrying a copper bucket full of water

Water is Sacred

March 22, Press Release


Water is necessary for human survival, but for Indigenous communities it holds spiritual and cultural significance. Water is not simply necessary for life; it is a living spirit.



 
Cora McGuire-Cyrette, ONWA Executive Director

"As stewards of their lands and waterways, Indigenous women are at the forefront of action defending their territories from irreversible harm and have long recognized the urgency to maintain healthy relationships with Mother Earth."

– Cora McGuire-Cyrette, Executive Director, ONWA


 

Left to right: Jennifer Bolton, Research and Evaluation, ONWA, Alana Robert, Southern Region Youth Director, ONWA BOD, Cora McGuire-Cyrette, Executive Director, ONWA, Madison Wigwas, Western Region Youth Director, ONWA BOD 
Left to right: Jennifer Bolton, Research and Evaluation, ONWA, Madison Wigwas, Western Region Youth Director, ONWA BOD, Cora McGuire-Cyrette, Executive Director, ONWA, Alana Robert, Southern Region Youth Director, ONWA BOD

Indigenous women are at the forefront of action defending their territories from irreversible harm. Maintaining healthy relationships with Mother Earth is urgent.


 

Judy DaSilva of Grassy Narrows First Nation
Judy DaSilva of Grassy Narrows First Nation

On World Water Day, we celebrate Judy DaSilva of Grassy Narrows First Nation, a lifelong advocate for environmental protection. Let's honor her work and protect our planet's most precious resource.


 

Photos courtesy of Roberta Keesick (Gwawich)


ONWA recognizes Gwawich (Roberta Keesick) from the community of Asubpeeschoseewagong, (Grassy Narrows First Nation) of the of the Piizhew (Lynx) Ododamon (Clan) for her knowledge as a land protector and protector of Grassy Narrows Traditional land. She is protecting Keys Lake, which is part of their traditional land use area and so that it continues to provide for all who walk this land. This land must be protected and respected for its sacred nature and not destroyed for recreation.


 

"Water is life, and at times, we precariously underestimate the power of Mother Earth. If we want to make positive change we need to listen, reclaim our interconnection between all living beings, and walk together as Water Carriers”

– Cheryl Bagnall, ONWA Director of Community Services


 


Cora McGuire-Cyrette, the Executive Director of the Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA), is spoke with Nationtalk to recognize World Water Day and raise awareness of the global water crisis.


ONWA is urging people to reflect on the state of water and take action to make a difference, no matter how small. ONWA is also honoring Indigenous women's traditional roles as water carriers and caretakers of their lands and waterways, recognizing the spiritual and cultural significance of water.




 

Josephine Mandamin - Late Chief Water Commissioner and Water Walker
Josephine Mandamin - Late Chief Water Commissioner and Water Walker

Today ONWA honours the late Chief Water Commissioner and Water Walker, Josephine Mandamin who taught us that “without water, there is no life”. Water Walkers have dedicated their lives to protecting water for everyone by bringing awareness of the environmental damage causing pollution to water. Their leadership helps us to understand all the ways we depend on water for life, today and for generations to come.



 

 From left to right: Madison Wigwas, Western Region Youth Director, ONWA BOD , Jennifer Bolton, Researcher, ONWA and Alana Robert, Southern Region Youth Director, ONWA BOD
From left to right: Madison Wigwas, Western Region Youth Director, ONWA BOD , Jennifer Bolton, Researcher, ONWA and Alana Robert, Southern Region Youth Director, ONWA BOD

Indigenous women’s voices, perspectives, and leadership must be uplifted, protected, and empowered as they continue water and land protection and advocacy. ONWA celebrates and honours the safety and healing of Indigenous women and girls as they take up their leadership roles in the family, community and internationally for generations to come.



 

Photos courtesy of Roberta Keesick (Gwawich)
Photos courtesy of Roberta Keesick (Gwawich)

“When I'm out there, I cry in my heart, please wake up. I feel alone out there when I'm trying to be out on the land. When I'm trying to keep our Aboriginal and treaty rights alive. I always wish others would see me and do it too or come and help me. I feel defeated sometimes but I try and go on. Rez life and trips to the city are over-powering. I will continue” Recognizing Gwawich (Roberta Keesick) from the community of Asubpeeschoseewagong, (Grassy Narrows First Nation) of the of the Piizhew (Lynx) Ododamon (Clan) for her knowledge as a land protector and protector of Grassy Narrows Traditional land.

 

Water is not just a basic need, it's sacred and vital for our survival. Let's listen, learn, and walk together to sustainably manage this precious resource for future generations.


Water is not just necessary for life, it's a living spirit sacred to Indigenous peoples. We must reclaim our interconnection with all living beings and manage it sustainably for future generations.

 

ONWA is taking action. We are committed to accelerate the Global Water Decade.

ONWA is committed to developing an internal and external Mother Earth Strategy that reflects Indigenous women’s responsibilities, traditional ecological knowledge, and practices with measurable impacts, acknowledging our ancestors, future generations, and all our relations.



 

Today, ONWA recognizes Autumn Peltier, the Chief Water Commissioner for the Anishinabek Nation, Indigenous Rights & Water activist, and Water Walker.


“Behind every boil water advisory is a grandmother that is too old to fetch water, a mother that cannot afford bottled water, a child that does not know what it is to have clean water. The work I am doing is not for me, but for my community, and for my grandmother Josephine Mandamin. The work I am doing is for my descendant and the future.”

 

Cora McGuire-Cyrette, ONWA Executive Director in front of the #WaterAction sign at the 2023 UN World Water Conference

Cross-cultural dialogue between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities as a part of water and climate justice work benefits all through building mutual understanding and responsibility.

 

“When on country, the loudest thing your should hear is your heartbeat”. – Dr Phil Duncan


ONWA was honoured to meet Dr. Phil Duncan and his team from the Australian Rivers Institute today at the UN 2023 World Water Conference.

 

L to R: Cora McGuire-Cyrette, Executive Director, ONWA,, Alana Robert, Southern Region Youth Director, ONWA BOD, Madison Wigwas, Western Region Youth Director, Ingrid Green, Research Director, ONWA & Jennifer Bolton, Researcher, ONWA

Indigenous women as water carriers ensure that water is clean, accessible, unpolluted, and continues to fulfill its spiritual roles for our communities, grandchildren, and future generations. Indigenous women are the inheritors of water knowledge, protection, and management on Turtle Island.



 

The voices of Indigenous women must guide climate change conversations, ensure water protection, and co-develop solutions for collective health and healing through the alignment of Indigenous knowledge and scientific best practice.

 

Ingrid Green, Research Director, ONWA, Madison Wigwas, Western Region Youth Director, Bethany Johnson, Strategy & Communications, ONWA, Jennifer Bolton, Researcher, ONWA, Alana Robert, Southern Region Youth Director, ONWA BOD

Indigenous girls and youth must have the right to participate in opportunities related to cultural education and traditional ways, such as returning to their traditional land-based practices, meeting with elders, and participating in land-based activities.



 

ONWA leader returns to UN for water conference to discuss how government and private organizations can take care of water as a resource.


 


Youth board members Alana Robert, Southern Region and Madison Wigwas, Western Region ONWA, writing ONWA’s Water Action Commitment on collective board of actions.


 

Be the change you want to see in the world. Indigenous women who take up the role of land, water, or environmental defenders are well versed in establishing and practicing ongoing tactics and strategies to protect their children, families, and communities from the impacts of global climate change. You can make a difference too.

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