Anger and Indifference on Lake Winnipeg – By Mark Mann, The Walrus

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Dave Courchene, a ­prominent Anishinaabe elder, doesn’t believe that meaningful change will come only from the top. “Until we find the way to have a much more sacred relationship with the land,” he says, “we’re going to continue down this path of destroying the future for our own children.” On the day we met, he wore a baseball cap over his wavy grey ponytail, and lounged in the booth at a local restaurant, picking at a tray of nachos and cracking jokes. (“We had running water when I was growing up: I ran down to the lake to get the water, and then I ran it home.”) Courchene says that over the course of his life, he has seen Lake Winnipeg transform from a clean source of drinking water ­into a danger to swimmers and residents. He’s heard every sort of promise and justification along the way. “There’s so much rhetoric that goes on,” he says. “People say the right things, and that’s about all they do.” Known as Leading Earth Man, Courchene does environmental ­advocacy work around the world and is the ­founder of the Turtle Lodge, a healing and cultural centre. In the summer of 2015, elders, grandmothers, and traditional ­knowledge-keepers from across North America met at Courchene’s home community of Sagkeeng First Nation to participate in a water ceremony on behalf of Lake Winnipeg. Many brought jars of water from lakes and river systems in their own communities and carried them out into the lake in a procession of small motorboats and pontoons. Nature’s laws are self-enforcing, Courchene says, and you reap what you sow: “If you put love into the water, you get love back. If you put pollutants in the water, then that’s what you get back. I believe there’s a lot of hope—it’s just a matter of continuing the work that’s being done to create greater awareness.” – Excerpt from “Anger and Indifference on Lake Winnipeg” – By Mark Mann, The Walrus

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