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Sacred Water Circle Launches Community Action Plan

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Sacred Water Circle is one of many organizations advocating for the benefit of water. However, the initiative's distinctive approach is spiritually based with a focus on revaluing indigenous environmental knowledge.

Sacred Water Circle tries to increase dialogue around environmental issues, and to motivate communities and governments to set policy that will protect water, by leading with prayer and walking.

A spiritual approach to caring for water is absolutely necessary, said the organization's co-founder Cathy Mitchell.

The connection between water and human communities is very much a spiritual bond, said Mitchell. Lack of respect for water is a spiritual problem and therefore the solutions are also spiritual, she added.

Issues like lack of water and climate change affect the poorest in the world and these people contribute the least to the issues, she explained.
"In order for people to continue living in the manner they do, they must abandon their moral judgement. If we viewed water as sacred a lot of conflict would be avoided," she added.

Water must be viewed as sacred as one's own body, explained Mitchell. If water was sacred, decisions regarding pipelines and clean water would not be as contentious as they are. The safety of water would be the number one priority, she explained.

Since 2011, the Sacred Water Circle has been working to mend the spiritual bond between water and human communities. By the end of summer 2015 the organization will launch their community action plan and a manual aiming to renew relationship with water.

In August, the Circle released videos called Teaching Turtles. The short clips feature Indigenous elders sharing stories, wisdom and history. This year's clips were taken at the circle's large water gathering in May called "Seven Generations Ahead: Celebrating Water Solutions."

The gathering was an important opportunity to partner schools, businesses, scientists, government and officials with people of faith to primarily revalue indigenous knowledge and perspectives, said Mitchell.

The event held in Peterborough featured Grandmother Josephine Mandamin and Elder Shirley Williams. "We start with prayer and spiritual courage before we get to the action and the work," said Mitchell.

As part of the gathering, the circle held a intergenerational panel. Youth as young as ten years old took part in the panel discussing water and the environment. "Young people are very overwhelmed by the environmental issues they are born into--our project was a response to that," said Mitchell.
A call for protecting water and the environment was also shared through art, dance, and song.

Sacred Water Circle also hosted a City Hall 101 earlier this year to acquaint water advocates with their local decision-making processes and city policy structures.

"We must renew our relationship with water. Water is life. We believe that it is the sacred lifeblood of everything," Mitchell said.
 
Miriam Katawazi was the 2015 summer journalist at the Peace and Environment Resource Centre.

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