This is Why Women Carry the Water During a Sacred Water Walk

This blog was originally written for the Great Lakes Water Walk, for which Water Docs Film Festival was a founding partner. Miigwech to Grandmother Kim Wheatley for sharing her knowledge with us in this piece. 


Water is Life and women are life givers, and so it is a traditionally recognized responsibility for women to take care of that which is necessary for Life.

In ceremony such as a water walk, only women carry the water, indicating that women are caretakers of water, and carry life within themselves (childbirth).
— Grandmother Josephine Mandamin
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Anishinaabeg teach that we as human beings were given original instructions to nurture our relationships with all Creation and to walk with our Earth Mother in a good way.

We do this with respect, gratitude and love with our body, minds and spirit honouring the natural harmony on the planet. It is a necessary relationship which is reflected in our female/male roles as human beings.  Women were given the role of taking care of the water and men the role of taking care of fire.  This responsibility reflects the natural balance of water and fire.  Too much or too little of one or the other (water or fire) and they will disappear.

Anishinaabe Kwewag (Indigenous Women), and all women, have the powerful ability to carry life which is born of sacred ancestral birth waters called forth by Nokomis Giizis (Grandmother Moon) after nine months. This process has taken place since time immemorial and reflects the sacred harmony of carrying/caring for the force we call “Life”.

It is therefore a woman’s responsibility to honour and care for Nibi (Water), the source of all life, for the next seven generations.

The water of Mother Earth, she carries life to us, and as women we carry life through our bodies. We as women are life-givers, protectors of the water, and that’s why we are very inclined to give mother earth the respect that she needs for the water.
— Grandmother Josephine Mandamin
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Quotes from Grandmother Josephine Mandamin can be found on Indigenous Rising. All were invited to participate in the Great Lakes Water Walk this past September. To stay up to date on when the next event will take place, follow Great Lakes Water Walk on Facebook