Ogichidaa Manidoo Jiimaan Babaamaadiziwan

Warrior Spirit Canoe Journey

Information for this article was provided by Waawaashkeshii Nini (Luke Rouillard) and written by Philip Martin. Quotations and photos are from Waawaashkeshii Nini’s emails and facebook pages.

On June 10, Waawaashkeshii Nini, Gegek-Waatig (hawk staff) and Jiimaan (canoe) will begin paddling on a Ceremonial Canoe Journey along the Grand River, from Caledonia to Cambridge. They plan to arrive in Cambridge no later than the full moon on June 24.

You can monitor the progress of this journey in several ways:

Facebook Page

Map Share

This two week journey upstream has important ceremonial purposes.

This is our statement of intent for this upcoming Jiimaan Journey in June of paddling the Grand River from Hwy 6 bridge (at Caledonia) to Riverbluffs Park, Cambridge.

The reason Jiimaan, Gegek-Waatig, Al King and I have been called to make this journey is to petition Gchi Manidoo and Manidoog to help the Nishnaabeg (Human Beings) during these trying and hard times we’ve been experiencing. As well as bringing awareness to the impacts of agriculture and the heavy use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to our waters and all of our relatives.

As we paddle up the Grand River on this ceremonial canoe journey, we will be starting with Sunrise Ceremony each day before launching, and offering prayers and making offerings for the Water, Land and all of our relations. 

This Journey is about and for the People, the Water, and the Land. Even though Gegek Waatig, Al King and I will be the ones with Jiimaan, we are just doing our part to return the love and prayers that helped get us through our dark times.

~ Waawaashkeshii Nini

This will be the second Ceremonial Jiimwaan (Canoe) Journey for Waawaashkeshii Nini. In February of this year he paddled with his brothers, Waasekom and Scott Parent, from the Niagara River to Menecing (Toronto Island). That was Waawaashkeshii Nini’s first long distance paddle. It was also his first wintertime paddle, in which he was guided by Scott Parent on how to listen to Nibi miinwaa Noodin (Water and Wind) to navigate the ice flows safely.

The ceremonial purposes of the upcoming journey along the Grand River have a deep personal connection for Waawaashkeshii Nini.

We’re paddling up river the hard way from the New Credit / Six Nations reservation (near Caledonia) to Cambridge. I’m from New Credit. I’m a Michi Saagiig (Mississaugas) and one of Chief Maungwadaus George Henry’s great great grandsons…. The portion of the Haldimand tract that runs through Galt and Dumfries used to be my family’s traditional hunting lands, in which the bones of my great great grandfather are in the ground in the bluffs. 

~ Waawaashkeshii Nini

Waawaashkeshii Nini is very quick to point out, however, that this journey is not really about him, or his paddling partners. The Ceremonial Canoe Journey is about and for the People, the Water and the Land. He would like to acknowledge the crucial support of many brothers and sisters, knowledge carriers, and youth who have helped to make this journey possible.

There are several ways in which you can help with this Ceremonial Canoe Journey.

  • Run social media. This is the main way that paddlers on this journey will remain connected to the world in a two-way flow of communication. This role could begin as soon as possible and continue through the end of the journey.
  • Help locate suitable camping sites. Those on this journey intend to remain as self-reliant as possible and keep costs down to a minimum. They will be travelling approximately 15 kilometres a day and will need free places to camp all along the way. Do you know of such locations between Caledonia and Cambridge? Can you help arrange for some locations?
  • Help with long portages. There are several places along the way where the paddlers will need to make long portages. Might you be able to help carry things? Do you have any equipment that would help with these portages?
  • Supply support. There will be places along the way where the paddlers will need to refresh their supplies of food and other things. They will set up a system for doing this that meets all the appropriate and necessary COVID protocols. It will involve following the live GPS tracker and dropping a map pin somewhere along the way, with a message for pick up.
  • Donate wood. The paddlers will need wood, especially for cooking. Do you have some wood that you would be willing to donate for this purpose?
  • Prayers and sharing about this journey. Your prayers for this journey are welcome. Please consider also sharing about this journey with your network of friends, helping people to understand the purposes of the Warrior Spirit Canoe Journey.
  • Financial support. The only significant expense for this journey is the purchase of a GPS tracker. Most funds have already been raised for this purpose. If you wish to contribute financially, donations can be sent to warriorsspiritcanoejourneys@outlook.com. Any money that is not needed for the purposes of this trip will be donated to the work of the Hamilton Regional Indian Centre (HRIC).
  • Travel part of the way with us. Waawaashkeshii Nini says, “If you’re interested in joining us on the water in your own canoes or kayaks along the journey, that would be amazing. With COVID, we want to be sure to be good relatives, so keeping a watercraft’s length between watercrafts should be a safe way.” Camping space is going to be limited, so accompanying the paddlers is something that should only happen during the daytime. It would be helpful to let the paddlers know ahead of time if you plan to participate in this way.

If you have questions about this Warrior Spirit Canoe Journey or if you would like to help out in some way, here are some ways to connect with Waawaashkeshii Nini and fellow paddlers.

9 thoughts on “Ogichidaa Manidoo Jiimaan Babaamaadiziwan

  1. Journey Update from Waawaashkeshii Nini’s Facebook page on the eve of his depature:

    Bundles are ready, and we hear the calling of NIBI.

    We’re pretty much packed up, planned best we could. Just need to get Jiimaan waxed and polished up, and load up the van before going to bed later this evening. As excited as we are to be paddling with intent once again, we are really looking forward to those moments that weren’t anticipated, and just to be in the moment with Jiimaan, Nibi, Gegek-Waatik, as well as all our relations, knowing we are being seen and guided by those Manidoog who’ve called us to this special Sacred calling following the path of all of those strong Ikwewag, Ininiwag miinwaa Minisinook who’ve Journeyed these waters before us.

    Much love and respect to all who’ve guided us, lifted us up, helping us see and understand what it means to be Anishinaabe as well as how to navigate our paths with humility, love, respect,patience, compassion and understanding.

    Along our Journeys we will no longer be telling our stories, but sharing our Truths. Stories can be changed and made to appease the listener, however our truths cannot. Our truths are what make us who we are as Anishinaabeg, our strengths and our faults, our successes and perceived failures, the good and the bad. All of which we are gifted as teachings to understand that even in being imperfect beings, we are perfectly imperfect.


  2. Journey Update from Waawaashkeshii Nini’s Facebook page ~ June 10:

    Found a good spot for the night, went further faster then I planned, going to setup camp and maybe try some fishing, get a good meal and some rest and try and pace ourselves a little slower tomorrow.


  3. Journey Update from Waawaaskeshii Nini’s Facebook Page ~ June 12

    After a great day with Nibi, Jiimaan and Gegek waatig, we cleared the Oxbow and made our day 3 landing site at roughly 5pm. Unfortunately site was not suitable, as well as some equipment failure, so we’re heading home to get things fixed and get a bit of needed rest, and we will be back on the waters by Tuesday morning.

    Baamaapii G’waabamin miinwaa


  4. Journey Update from Waawaaskeshii Nini’s Facebook Page ~ June 15

    Mino Kiizhep! Good morning!

    These two days back home to get my gear fixed and sorted out properly has been great.

    Looking over the map, the anticipated itinerary progressing forward.

    Tuesday :Launch and paddle from Cockshutt Rd to Brant Conservation area
    Wednesday : Launch and paddle from Brant Conservation to roughly the Murray Outlook area
    Thursday :Launch and paddle from Murray Outlook area to Glen Morris
    Friday : Launch from Glen Morris and paddle to the final destination Riverbluffs Park, Cambridge.

    Please remember these are tentative , based on weather, wind direction. However we’re quite confident in the strength in our prayers, Bundles and intent while paddling our way up the Grand River.

    Also we will have a mid Journey reflection to post later today, And Thank you to everyone who has been helping us moving forward throughout our Journey. Our Journey wouldn’t be possible without all of your help, love, and prayers.


  5. I was pleased to meet up and assist with the Paris Dam Portage. Quite steep but managable with 2. Thanks Phil for introducing us.

    Great to meet Waawaaskeshii Nini, share a meal and do the portage.
    We do all have a duty to choose the right paths ahead.


  6. Journey Update from Waawaashkeshii Nini’s Facebook page ~ June 19:

    Mino Kiizhep! Good morning!

    Weather is looking great today, just getting up and ready to hit the water by 9 am. Final leg of roughly 11km today.
    It’s been an amazing Journey, however non of this would have been possible without the love and support from our family, and Philip Martin who’s been working hard to make sure we can continue our Journey as well as making sure we have helpers at the long portages. Once we arrive in Cambridge we will be making a full acknowledgement to everyone who’s helped us. much love and respect for everyone who’s believed in us and helped guide us along the way. Gchi Miigwech.


  7. Journey Update from Waawaashkeshii Nini’s Facebook page ~ June 20:

    Aannii, Nanaboozhoo Nanaboozhoo, Waawaashkeshii Nini N’dijnaakaas, Migizi N’dodem, Michi Saagiig of the Credit N’doonjiibaa, Thorold Niin daw

    Hello, and Greetings, My name is Waawaashkeshii Nini, I belong to the Eagle clan, I am from the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nations reservation, I live in Thorold.

    Now that we’ve finally completed our 118km Journey upriver with Jiimaan, Gegek-Waatik, and Grand River. We’ve been having a chance to begin to reflect on the Journey, the conversations had with paddlers passing by, and the great conversations with our hosts and helpers.

    Although we are quite sore and tired now, We were so blessed to have met everyone, and been supported the way we’ve been, as well as had the opportunity to paddle with purpose and intent for our Nishnaabeg relatives.
    At this time we would to acknowledge my family for their support, love,encouragement and sacrifices they’ve made to make this Journey possible.

    Thank you Don for not only helping at the portage at Paris, and thank you for the drinks, food and great conversation while resting and preparing to portage.

    We would also like give a really big shout out to Philip Martin who’s been instrumental in keeping us going, motivated, encouraged. And who’s tireless work really helped us, from helping us find hosts and some places to sleep to bringing us a new inline water filter.

    We would also like to thank our gracious hosts Joy and Bill Hancock who took really good care of us and were still able to host us even after me overshot the original planned stop.

    As well Gchi Miigwech to our hosts Jeff Evans and his wife Leigh being prepared to put up with us for a few days. And a big big Thanks to Jeff for helping us complete the Journey on our final day and to everyone who helped hold space for us.

    Also not to forget to acknowledge Carol Bigwood and Arwalt Zeydlerr for their most gracious donations which helped us acquire our GPS tracker.

    We will conclude our Journey with a feasting of the Ancestors ceremony to honour and feed those Manidoog who’ve helped and guided as well on Monday. And we will post a Post-journey reflection later this week
    GCHI MIIGWECH to everyone for all your love, support, prayers and encouragement.


  8. Journey Update from Waawaashkeshii Nini’s Facebook page ~ June 21:

    Nanaboozhoo Nanaboozhoo, Mino kiizhep! Greetings and good morning.

    We’re on our last day in Cambridge, and we struck and awoke Ishkode to offer our prayers, our gratitude and feast Bundles for all the Manidoog, Nishnaabeg miinwaa Gchi Manidoo for their help,strength and guidance which helped us paddle and carry those Bundles and intentions Mino Bimaadziwin (in a good way) for all our Nishnaabeg relatives.
    Ishkode will be going till sunset.

    I really wanted to say Gchi Miigwech to everyone who believed in us, supported us, helped hold space and offer those much needed prayers for everyone who’s struggling or hurting and feel lost.

    Much love and respect.

    Gchi Miigwech
    Baamaapii G’waabamin miinwaa


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