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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
- Questions or comments posted on this blog will be monitored by and forwarded to the paddlers.
- Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Warriorspiritcanoejourneys
- Email contact for Waawaashkeshii Nini: email@example.com
- Map share Updates: https://share.garmin.com/KP5OR