The Water Warrior Award
Launched in 2018 on World Water Day, our annual Water Warrior Award is presented each year at the Water Docs Film Festival to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to protecting and raising awareness about threats and issues facing water. The award highlights the work of someone who exemplifies and embodies Ecologos’ mission—namely, to restore the human connection to water while motivating people to take action to protect our planet’s most precious element.
Ecologos commissioned a local Toronto glass artist—Aurora Darwin—to design and create the awards. Aurora was featured in the documentary The Peel Project, which premiered in Toronto at the 2017 Water Docs Film Festival. During the premiere, Aurora displayed some of her art pieces that were inspired by her canoe journey down the Peel River Watershed during the making of the documentary. We worked with Aurora to design a beautiful glass wave, capturing the powerful ability inherent in art to move hearts and minds to take action for water.
2019 Water Warrior Award Recipients
The 2019 Water Warrior Award is being presented to two special water warriors whose powerful message about water has rippled through communities around the world: Grandmother Josephine Mandamin and her great niece, Autumn Peltier.
Autumn Peltier will join us on Wednesday, March 20 at Water Warriors: Screenings & Awards to accept the awards for both herself and her Great Aunt, Josephine Mandamin who will be with us in spirit.
This is a free event, but seats are limited. Please reserve yours in advance.
Autumn is a 14-year-old from the Wikwemikong Unceded Anishinawbe Territory located on Manitoulin Island. She is also known as Mskwaa-Geezo Kwe (Red Moon Woman) of the eagle clan. Autumn is currently in grade 9 and attends the Manitoulin Secondary School. Autumn is being raised with her traditional ways, so she can pass our teachings onto her great grand-children in order to pass on the old ways and to protect our environment to ensure there is clean drinking water for our survival.
Autumn is known as one of Canada’s youngest Water Activists and has become internationally known for her advocacy work and teachings to women. She began her work in 2015 when she first attended the Children’s Climate Summit in Sweden where she shared her story about the sacredness of water and the importance of clean drinking water for Indigenous people in Canada and especially in Ontario. Since then Autumn has been creating awareness, sharing water ceremonies with young women and girls, participating in sacred water walks that she learned from her great auntie Josephine Mandamin who initiated the Great Lakes Water Walks before Autumn was born. Autumn has travelled over 150,000 km and spoken at over 200 engagements all over Canada, the USA and overseas. She also speaks on committees dealing with the Great Lakes, women’s circles, youth groups, schools, ceremonies and countless conferences. Her biggest event was speaking before world leaders on World Water Day in March 2018 at United Nations Headquarters in New York City where she told world leaders to “Warrior Up”. Autumn is also a spokesperson for the Treaty Alliance of Canada and has been to the Kinder Morgan pipeline to protest against pipelines. In 2017 Autumn was also invited to witness leadership sign a treaty to protect the grizzly bears against the Kinder Morgan Pipeline and then she was invited as a future Chief to sign the Treaty as well. Autumn was awarded a Sovereign Medal of Exceptional Volunteerism for being an exceptional Environmentalist by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and the Governor General o f Canada. At her young age, Autumn’s achievements include winning several awards: appearing in several magazines and books, being part of the school curriculum, giving keynote addresses, and she was recently added to Immigration Canada’s information for new Canadians to know and understand about Indigenous people and for cultural education. Autumn takes pride in her culture and in ceremony and enjoys working with her people. For such a young person, Autumn’s résumé is already several pages long and her journey has only just begun.
Wikwemikong Unceded Nation
Great Lakes Mother Earth Water Walker
When challenged by one of her traditional teachers to not accept that she was powerless, Josephine suddenly came up with the idea of walking around Lake Superior to draw attention to the fact that water is the life blood of Mother Earth. Other grandmothers eventually joined her in the walks around all five of the Great Lakes and, with the support of many people and financial assistance from donations, they accomplished the amazing feat of awareness-building about the critical water shortage and the political and spiritual issues around water. Most importantly, they motivated other women to take part in sacred water walking by emphasizing the important role that women play in the protection of the earth’s waters.
But it was her great love for the water that Josephine not only spoke about but also demonstrated. She shared how her vision came to be, what it means today and what it will mean for the future. Josephine pledged her life to the environment and always emphasized the importance of the protection of the water in all of her wisdom sharing.
Josephine’s CV covered 30 years of life experience working with her own people, especially from the perspective of her great love of nature. Challenged by life at an early age, she brought these experiences to light in all of her teachings. These challenges not only motivated her, but also conditioned her to become the inspiration she was and also remains for so many and provided a legacy that will continue on for future generations.
To those who will hear the messages and songs, the encounter with them can never be forgotten. Grandmother Josephine has left us with a renewed commitment to the tradition of protecting our waters by following closely in her footsteps. Her legacy is in the example she demonstrated which helped to make us all aware of the great peril that we face if we don’t protect the waters that are within us all
Josephine and the other grandmothers led by example and helped to bring together over 100 Tribes and First Nations to sign the Tribal and First Nations Great Lakes Water Accord in which all have pledged to work together to protect the waters… and for that, we will be forever grateful.
Chi Miigwetch Nokomis
2018 Inaugural Award Recipient: Maude Barlow
The inaugural award was presented to Canadian author and activist Maude Barlow. Maude is the Honorary Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and chairs the board of Washington-based Food and Water Watch. She serves on the executive of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature and is a Councillor with the Hamburg-based World Future Council.
Maude is the recipient of 14 honorary doctorates as well as many awards, including the 2005 Right Livelihood Award (known as the “Alternative Nobel”), the 2005 Lannan Foundation Cultural Freedom Fellowship Award, the Citation of Lifetime Achievement at the 2008 Canadian Environment Awards, the 2009 Earth Day Canada Outstanding Environmental Achievement Award, the 2009 Planet in Focus Eco Hero Award, and the 2011 EarthCare Award, the highest international honour of the Sierra Club (US).
In 2008/2009, she served as Senior Advisor on Water to the 63rd President of the United Nations General Assembly and was a leader in the campaign to have water recognized as a human right by the UN. She is also the author of dozens of reports, as well as 18 books, including her latest, Blue Future: Protecting Water for People and the Planet Forever and Boiling Point, Government Neglect, Corporate Abuse and Canada’s Water Crisis.