On behalf of Chiefs of Ontario, we offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends on the recent passing of Josephine Mandamin.
Josephine, known as a tireless advocate and Water Walker, dedicated her life to the protection and preservation of the Great Lakes and surrounding waters while raising awareness that water is not only sacred but also our lifeline. Josephine will be fondly remembered for her warmth, generosity, knowledge and greatly missed amongst many.
Determined in her efforts, Josephine spent her life advocating and teaching the importance of acknowledging the relationship between the land and water. She walked more than 17,000 kilometres around Turtle Island’s Great Lakes and other waterways in an effort to raise awareness on the importance of respecting and preserving our sacred waters while emphasizing that Water is Life and vital to our future generations.
Grandmother Josephine was recognized for her determination to protecting the Nibi, and her role in the 2003 Mother Earth Water Walk, receiving the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Excellence in Conversation in 2016. She also played a key role in establishing the Great Lakes Protection Act during her time as Chief Commissioner of the Anishinabek Nation Women’s Water Commission.
“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Josephine Mandamin and the community of Wiikwemkoong First Nation. Josephine’s work as a Water Protector is world-renowned and her remarkable journey and contributions to the renewal, rebirth and re-growth of our waters will be remembered for years to come,” said Regional Chief Archibald. “Josephine has left behind a significant space in the movement for the protection of our water. I encourage us to stand together during this time and continue her important work and move forward her vision of protecting and maintaining the Nibi to ensure a better future for our next generations. We will cherish the memory of Josephine and we wish her well on her journey to the spirit world.”
The Ontario Regional Chief will be travelling to Wiikwemkoong Unceded territory on Mnidoo Mnising to pay her respects in person, and share a message of condolence from Assembly of First Nations, National Chief Perry Bellegarde.
“Grandmother Josephine was truly an inspiration, a fierce advocate, a water walker and warrior,” said Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald.