Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Glen Hare invites all those who live in the Great Lakes Basin to celebrate Great Lakes Day today to honour the Great Lakes and to create awareness for them to protect them for the future generations to come.
“We are blessed to have clean fresh water here in the Great Lakes Basin and we work hard to maintain that source of life,” states Grand Council Chief Hare. “Miigwech to the Creator for giving us this gift.”
In June 2019, Grand Council Chief Hare proclaimed April 22 to be known and celebrated as Great Lakes Day to honour the later Josephine Mandamin, Water Walker, and the Water Protectors. This day is to commemorate and raise awareness of the work that’s been done by past Water Protectors and to honour the work that future Water Protectors will carry forward to advocate for and protect Water.
“Our Grandmother Josephine Mandamin and former Anishinabek Nation Chief Water Commissioner stated to the Leadership for many years, ‘Water is Life’. Since then, we have had our Chief Water Commissioner, Autumn Peltier, speaking to the world on the importance of Water. Water is what keeps us alive on Mother Earth,” states Grand Council Chief Hare.
There are five Great Lakes: Superior, Huron, Michigan, Ontario, and Erie. Together they comprise the largest body of freshwater, making up more than 20 percent of the world’s freshwater supply, and stretch 750 miles from east to west, bringing drinking water to approximately 40 million people and providing a home to over 4,000 species of plants and wildlife. The Great Lakes are also home to the largest freshwater island in the world – Mindoo Mnising.
The Great Lakes face many issues that include pollution and invasive species, illustrating why a dedicated day is necessary to raise awareness about them.
“We have been told by our Grandfathers and Grandmothers that you can’t eat money or drink gasoline. When I was younger, I was told that Water would be so valuable that we would be buying it in stores. At the time I thought, ’That is crazy— Water is free’. But you see it for sale now in stores everywhere—even more expensive than juice or pop. During the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, we see one of the best ways to keep ourselves safe is to wash our hands frequently with soap and water—highlighting just how important it is to have access to this basic resource and how we need to protect it to secure it for future generations.”
The Anishinabek Nation is a political advocate for 39 member First Nations across Ontario, representing approximately 65,000 citizens. The Anishinabek Nation is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.