Image: Myseum of Toronto.
1942 - 2019 | Anishinabek Nation Chief Water Commissioner and Water Rights Advocate
Josephine Mandamin, also known as “Grandmother Water Walker ” and Biidaasige-ba (”the one who comes with the light”), was an environmental activist from Wikwemikong First Nation. From 2003 to 2017, she walked around the Great Lakes, raising awareness about water pollution and environmental degradation in the region and on Indigenous reserves. Inspired by her Ojibwe spiritual worldview, which honoured water as a living being, Mandamin’s activism earned her the Anishinabek Lifetime Achievement Award (2012) and the Governor General’s Meritorious Service Cross (2018).
As a woman, elder, “lifegiver,” and “water-keeper,” Mandamin felt a sacred duty to pass on her water knowledge (nibi giikendaaswin) to present and future generations, leaving a lasting legacy of inspiring others to protect and preserve water resources.