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Water & Spirit: Allyship in Action on the Grand River

MaryAnne and Melissa

On June 24th, Divest Waterloo and Parkminster United Church partnered on Water and Spirit: Allyship in Action — a lunch and Indigenous Allyship gathering designed for people who are wondering about how to go beyond land acknowledgements, curious about terms, or wanting to discover positive best practices for working with Indigenous peoples. Melissa Ireland (pictured on the right above, bio below), Manager of Indigenous Student Services at Laurier University, facilitated this participatory gathering employing a circle approach to help participants self-discover where they sit in their Indigenous Allyship journey.

Following this, Mary Anne Caibaiosai (pictured on the left above, bio below) shared her stories and prayers for the water and plans for the All Nations Grand River Water Walk that will be held from September 15th through the 29th. The workshop and lunch were free, with donations to support the Water Walk gratefully accepted.

The Water Walk will begin at the headwaters of the Grand River and follow the beautiful riverways to Lake Erie. The walk is intended to honour the water and connect all peoples to creation.

A great way to support the walk is to donate or bid on items posted on the All Nations Grand River Water Walk Facebook Auction: www.facebook.com/groups/2017WaterWalkAuction/. There are many beautiful hand made items and all of the funds from each bid go directly to support the walkers.

Parkminster Water and Spirit event


Mary Anne Caibaiosai is her English name but her spirit name is Nodin Ikwe, Wind Spirit Woman.  Mukwa dodem. She is bear clan Anishnaabe kwe from Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory, Manitoulin Island. Mary Anne is an Ojibway Anishnaabe woman who has been given and follow traditional life ways passed from Elders and teachers from her territory and from her life learning lodge. Mary Anne currently resides in Kitchener, after receiving a Master of Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier University. In addition to her ceremonial responsibilities, Mary Anne is a helper in the community and offers a grief bereavement circles to Indigenous community members, circle-based workshop teachings and counseling. Mary Anne is now being led to walk for the Grand River and has invited all Nations to participate in the walk this fall.

Melissa Star Ireland is a post-secondary student affairs professional with a passion for Indigenous ways of knowing, doing and being. She is the Manager of Indigenous Student Services at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her gifts include being a caring connector, collaborator, educator, mediator, proposal writer and door opener. She is a new mother, a youth couch, a former community radio programmer and Indigenous advocate for change. She is continually seeking connection and reconnection to Anishinaabe healing methods, relationships to the land, and how we can understand deeper connections to traditional laws, governance and leadership styles of Anishinaabe Peoples. Melissa holds an Honours BA in English Rhetoric and Professional Writing from the University of Waterloo and a Masters of Social Work from Wilfrid Laurier University. Melissa is a Mississauga Anishinaabe (Ojibway) woman with membership from Curve Lake First Nation.

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