Josephine Mandamin

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Josephine Mandamin is an Anishinaabe grandmother, elder and water activist involved with the Mother Earth Water Walkers.

Personal life[edit]

Josephine is originally from Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory.[1] Since 2003, Josephine has walked the shorelines of all the Great Lakes, around 17,000 miles.[2][3] Currently, Josephine's total kilometres walked for the water has been tallied at over 25,000 kilometers.[4] Josephine is a member of The Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge and completed her last water walk in the summer of 2017.[5]

The Water Walk Movement[edit]

The water walk movement began in 2003 after grandmother Josephine Manadamin became concerned over the pollution happening to the lakes and rivers across Turtle Island. Josephine was presented with a prophecy from an elder within the Three Fires Midewiwin society in the year 2000 that warned that "water will cost as much as gold" by the year 2030.[6] For the Anishinaabe, water is associated with Mother Earth and it is the responsibility of grandmothers to lead other women in praying for and protecting the water.[7] After the initial walk around Lake Superior in 2003, the spring became the annual time for the walks to begin as it symbolizes re-growth and renewal of the earth.[8] The work continues through a group called Nibi Emosaawdamajig (Those Who Walk for the Water), lead by Shirley Williams and her niece Elizabeth Osawamick.[9]

The Water Walker (book)[edit]

A book called The Water Walker was written and illustrated by Joanne Robertson in 2017, it is available through Second Story Press. The book follows the story of Grandmother Josephine and her love for Nibi (water), it follows her walking journey with colourful illustrations and pronunciation guides for Anishinaabe words.[10]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Josephine received the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Excellence in Conservation in 2016.[11] Josephine was awarded along with seven other recipients at Queen's Park for volunteer contributions to the conservation of community heritage over twenty-five years or more.[12]


  1. ^ "Award-winning First Nations elder 'will go any lengths for the water'". CBC News. Retrieved 2017-10-18.
  2. ^ "Trekking the Great Lakes on foot to raise awareness about water pollutants". CBC News. Retrieved 2017-10-18.
  3. ^ "Grandmother water walker". The London Free Press. Retrieved 2017-10-18.
  4. ^ Productions, Patrick Gilbert. "ONWA supports 'For the Earth and Water' water walk with Josephine Mandamin". Retrieved 2017-10-18.
  5. ^ "Home". Home. Retrieved 2017-10-18.
  6. ^ "Grandmother Josephine Mandamin, a 69 Year Old Who Walked Around the Great Lakes, Talks About the Water Docs International Festival - Shedoesthecity". Shedoesthecity. 2013-03-22. Retrieved 2017-10-18.
  7. ^ "Meet Josephine Mandamin (Anishinaabekwe), The "Water Walker" | Mother Earth Water Walk". Retrieved 2017-10-18.
  8. ^ "About Us | Mother Earth Water Walk". Retrieved 2017-10-18.
  9. ^ "'It's really very crucial right now': Great Lakes Water Walk focuses on protecting 'lifeblood'". CBC News. Retrieved 2017-10-18.
  10. ^ "The Water Walker". Second Story Press. Retrieved 2017-10-18.
  11. ^ "Josephine Mandamin to receive Lieutenant Governor's Ontario Heritage Award for Excellence in Conservation". Retrieved 2017-10-18.
  12. ^ "Josephine Mandamin to receive Lieutenant Governor's Ontario Heritage Award for Excellence in Conservation". Retrieved 2017-10-18.