By Mike Anderson

More than 20 students from Black River P.S. and Morning Glory P.S. participated in a water ceremony held at Virginia Beach Marina to mark the start of National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21.

Vicky Wolske and Sydney Erwood, members of Shining Water Paddle, a group of Chippewa of Georgina Island paddlers who each year paddle the waters of Lake Simcoe and its tributaries to heal the waters, led the ceremony.

“Today we are raising the awareness about how vital water is to sustain life and for future generations,” Wolske said.

“We are conducting a water ceremony and will try to see if we can get the kids involved. Because it’s important to have the kids here to share the message with them.”

Students take part in water ceremony
Michael talks to good water
Student says unkind words to bad water
Students and teachers from Morning Glory P.S. and Black River P.S.

After the ceremony, students were asked to say kind words to a mason jar of “good” water and unkind words to another mason jar of “bad” water.

“We completely separate it because we don’t want that negative vibration around the good stuff,” Wolske said.

“We also explain that our body is made of water too, we are more than 60 percent water, so when we talk unkindly to ourselves and others, we send negative vibrations and distort our inner waters.”

The message to be kind to the water, both in nature and within ourselves, resonated with the students.

“I really enjoy learning more about the Ojibwe culture and the waters,” said Michael Marnoch, 12, a Grade 6 student at Morning Glory P.S., who took part in the ceremony and said kind words to the “good” water.

According to Michael, he told the mason jar of “good” water: “Thanks for treating us well.”

After receiving small stones to place in the lake and a traditional tobacco offering, the students were asked to say unkind words to the “bad” water before boarding their school bus. One girl said: “You’re probably full of germs!”

National Indigenous Peoples Day is a day to recognize and celebrate the history, heritage, resilience and diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis across Canada.

It is observed annually on June 21, the summer solstice, the year’s longest day. The day was first proclaimed in 1996 by Romeo LeBlanc, then Governor General of Canada.

Shining Water Paddle has been invited to participate in the Muckleshoot Tribal Canoe Journey in British Columbia this July.

The ten-day paddle will take them from B.C. to Seattle, Washington. The group is trying to raise funds for their trip. You can donate at

Shining Water Paddle