Sacred Water

Turtle Squad

Manoah Steves Elementary
  • Grade 5
Photo Essay (3–10 images)

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For our BC Green Games project, we have been learning a lot about the importance of water. Water is something that we need to survive, but some people don’t think about how their actions can negatively affect the water we use and the water around us. One of the teachings from Indigenous Peoples about water is that water is sacred – it is fragile so we have to take good care of it.

Although we live in a well-developed country where we have access to clean drinking water, this is sadly not the case for many First Nations communities, right here in Canada. The reality is that many of the communities are under boil water advisories where the people have to boil their tap water because it is not safe to drink or they have to replace their tap water with bottled water. Although the prime minister Justin Trudeau promised to end all boil water advisories in different First Nations communities back in 2015, access to clean and safe drinking water is not yet the reality for all First Nations communities in Canada.

Some questions we had near the beginning of our project include the following:

  • How much water do I use?
  • Why is water important to us?
  • Where does water come from?
  • What happens if the world runs out of water?

Some things we already knew about water include the following:

  • A flower needs water to survive & grow
  • A fish needs water to live
  • If fruits did not have water, the fruits would die and we would not be able to live
  • If water is dirty and we use it to clean the food, it will make the food dirty too
  • If water gets dirty, it will make humans sick
  • Animals can die if people throw plastic in the water
  • Water is really important, keep it clean

We watched many videos including the following speakers: (Raul Garcia-Huichol/Kumeyaay) (Chief Dean Sayers-Batchewana First Nation) (Cristal Swain-Grassy Narrows First Nation) (Linda Redsky-Shoal Lake 40 First Nation) (Patricia Neyland-Batchewana First Nation) (Autumn Peltier-Wikwemikong First Nation) (Ta’haxwtn Randall W Lewish-Squamish First Nation) (Jamie Waboose-Batchewana First Nation) (Various people from the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation) (Hazel Paul, Monica Paul, Jerry Laurent-Nazko First Nation) (Chief Wilbert Marshall-Potlotek First Nation) (The Sacred Relationship documentary)

These are some of the new things we learned about water:

  • Only about 3% of water on Earth is fresh water, the type of water we drink.
  • We experience water first - it is our first medicine.
  • Water is not a resource, it is the source.
  • Water is life.
  • Fishing & hunting are directly infected when the water is contaminated
  • We are directly connected to water as our body is made up of 70% water.
  • Contaminants in the water of some First Nations communities can include coliform, E. Coli, chlorine, Trihalomethanes, and/or uranium.
  • The water can make the people sick if they use it on their body or if they drink it.
  • Water is alive and has a spirit.
  • Water is negatively affected when people pollute the water or put garbage in the water.
  • Everything is connected – what we do affects other people, animals, and plants.
  • The lakes, rivers, and oceans used to be very clear and clean – like a mirror.
  • There used to be a lot of fish (big fish) and a lot of birds but there aren’t as many anymore.
  • Plants that were used for medicine are now gone.
  • Oil comes from under the water so when people try to get oil using ships or machines, it hurts the wildlife.
  • Things that are thrown into the water also hurt wildlife.
  • The sand in the water can change colour and become very dark when it has been polluted or contaminated.
  • Water is sacred – it is our first connection in our mother’s womb
  • Tap water is taken for granted. It is not going to stick around forever, especially if we don’t take good care of it.
  • Oil spills would hurt the water and the beings that rely on water drastically.

Why is water important?

  • Water is important because it is what we need to stay alive.
  • Water is important for plants to grow, like fruits & vegetables that we eat.
  • Water is important because we need it when we wash our hands and shower.
  • Water is important because water created life and it gives us life.
  • Water is important to drink as we need lots of water during the day

To conclude our learning, we demonstrated a few things that people can do to help conserve and protect water: 

  • Turn off the tap when you are not using it
  • Choose to use re-fillable water bottles instead of purchasing plastic water bottles

We also created a poster including some of our ideas on how we and other individuals can play a role in conserving & protecting water.