On Sunday, September 24 Toronto is walking for the water
The Great Lakes Water Walk is an open invitation to all people to join an Indigenous-led Water Walk to honour Nibi (Water). Following Anishinaabe ceremonial protocols, Grandmothers and Elders will make water offerings, sing water songs, and make petitions for our water to be clean and pure.
The Walk starts at 7 am from the east and the west roughly following the Toronto Waterfront Trail. The two groups meet for the Final Ceremony which starts around 3 pm at Marilyn Bell Park.
The Day at a Glance
The walks are done ceremonially, with people walking behind women carrying a copper water pail and a man carrying a staff. You’ll find estimated times here, including ceremony, breaks, and final arrival at Marilyn Bell Park. Except for the 7 am water blessing, all times along the routes are estimates. While walking, we move at the pace of the women carrying the water. As well, we cannot account for weather, the pace of a large group, or other circumstances that can affect the time. We respectfully ask you to be patient with the schedule.
If you join at break or ceremony locations, we suggest you arrive early in case we are moving faster than estimated. On September 24, you can check to see where we are at the FACEBOOK event page as well as TWITTER and INSTAGRAM. You can also post with the hashtag #glww17.
What to Bring
Healthy snacks and a refillable water bottle. Sturdy walking shoes. Rain gear and sun block.
Pack a lunch to eat on the walk or indulge in food from the food trucks afterwards at Marilyn Bell Park.
What Not to Bring
Everyone is welcome. While we love our pets, bikes and skateboards, we do not bring them to ceremony. Please leave these at home. The only exception is service dogs, and they are welcome to accompany their Humans on the walk. Absolutely no drugs or alcohol.
What to expect
All are invited to join the Great Lakes Water Walk and reflect on how we can honour and protect our waters. It is not a protest, performance, or athletic competition. Because it is a ceremonial walk, we kindly ask that women wear long skirts and men long pants to show respect for our Grandmothers and Mother Earth, and that walkers remain behind the lead walkers carrying the water. The Water Walk is inclusive of all, so please come as you identify.
We will walk along the entire Toronto waterfront. Both routes are about 22 km. You are encouraged to join the walk at key locations along the route. Click the locations on the map for addresses and details. We’re roughly following the Toronto Waterfront Trail, and volunteers in neon yellow shirts will guide us on the route. Because of the nature of the walk, timings are approximate. Feel free to remain with the main walking group or exit the walk whenever you choose.
- The EASTERN WALK starts at Scarboro Missions and you can join at Ashbridges Bay Park (or the mouth of the Don River).
- The WESTERN WALK begins at JC Saddington Park and you can join at Colonel Sam Smith Park or the mouth of the Humber River.
The two walks will meet for a Concluding Ceremony at Marilyn Bell Park.
THE EAST WALK – Scarborough to Toronto
WATER BLESSING CEREMONY: 7:00 – 8:00 am at Scarboro Missions
BREAK: 10:10 – 10:30 am west of the Tim Horton’s (lots of parking) at the east side of Ashbridges Bay Park
WATER BLESSING & BREAK: 11:15 am – 12:00 noon at the mouth of the Don, Don Roadway & Villiers
ARRIVE: 2:00 – 2:30 pm at Marilyn Bell Park
THE CONCLUDING CEREMONY – Marilyn Bell Park
Welcomed by drummers and volunteers.
Final ceremony led by Elder Shirley Williams and Grandmother Josephine Mandamin, joined by representatives from diverse faith traditions to bless the water.
Hear from the Chiefs and provincial representatives
End with a traditional round dance and song.
The ceremony and presentations will reflect the shared awe and wonder that the Great Lakes inspire.
PLEASE FOLLOW THESE PROTOCOLS WITH RESPECT AND KINDNESS
- Please, NO photography or audio/video recording during the final water blessing ceremony and prayers.
- Refrain from touching any ceremonial objects or traditionally dressed individuals.
- Men are asked to remove hats during ceremony unless it has an eagle feather.
- All individuals are asked to stand during prayer / drum honour songs.
- No drugs or alcohol permitted.
- No pets (except for service dogs).
- The Elders’ tent is only for those with physical challenges.
- Please use only the traditional or organic tobacco provided for water blessings / offerings.
You can click these links for more information.