Short Story

Waasekom is a Turtle Clan Anishinaabe from Saugeen First Nation and the Kettle & Stoney Point First Nations on the southeastern shores of Lake Huron.

He has lead four ceremonial canoe journeys throughout the Great Lakes to raise awareness about Water, Climate Change, and Indigenous sovereign responsibilities. His great passion is in building agency for Indigenous led nation building. With his passion and vision, Waasekom is the individual taking on this Pilot Residency.

All funding through this ‘Residency’ will support capacity building and technical expertise, community togetherness, and will be centred around healing.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Agency For Water – Pilot ‘Residency’

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Agency For Water
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This project creates a pilot “Residency” for an Indigenous led ‘Agency for Water’ that supports Indigenous visionaries to create regenerative space for operationalizing their visions related to water/land governance.

Waasekom is the lead animator for Niwiijiiwok Doodemag, a grassroots initiative that is focused on the re-emergence of traditional indigenous governance and is the first individual taking on this Pilot Residency. For several years, and through his work of canoeing for water, he has experienced challenges in coming ashore on his home territory because shorelines are “owned” by settlers. He has a big vision so that settler land owners can show their willingness to have Indigenous folks come ashore as a show of allyship.

Many Indigenous land and water defenders do so without any kind of support and on their own dime, yet this work is done on behalf of all of us. The following are seen to be true:

  • There are no Indigenous Power Building Organizations within Canada that seek to address the needs of “spear-tip actionists” (frontline land defenders / water protectors, visionaries, and regenerative movement builders).
  • Capacity for Community Care within Indigenous Communities is constantly stretched thin.
  • Within capitalist systems based on extractivism of human and nonhuman resources including Indigenous knowledge, spear-tip actionists are left without critical capacities.
  • Settler / Indigenous relations are primarily centred around serving settler needs however work to shift towards centering Indigenous sovereignty and power building is occurring.

The title ‘Agency for Water’ was coined by Waasekom, the first participant of this ‘Residency.’ This is intended to invoke the ability of Water to speak for Her own needs through relationship with the ancestral stewards of the lands and waters She inhabits.

This “Residency” will offer the recipient 6-12 months support to host ceremonies and gifts for elders. It will be a working ‘retreat’ that is flexibly structured to support the needs of the individual as they move through their ‘vision’. Built into this safe, brave space will be time for respite, rest and recovery and healing, as well as community care and the ability to connect with Relatives. Support with communications and written and digital skills will be offered to this individual as a way to share their vision. One key focus area will be to imagine a pathway to a Landback tool. Another will be to imagine the process for this to be a relay, and offered to other Indigenous individuals every successive year.

This pilot “Residency” will span from October 2021 – May 2022. The first individual holding this position with  be Waasekom from Saugeen First Nation and the Kettle & Stoney Point First Nations.

Please consider donating to this project as a show of allyship. Your donation will support Indigenous led water governance which is essential to move towards a water justice agenda. Please donate today.