May Gathering to Celebrate Water

Annual Sacred Water Circle event is environmental in focus and cultural in scope

Participants from a past Sacred Water Circle Gathering discuss the importance of water and how to convey the message of its sacredness to those who make important decisions that affect the community as a whole (photo: GreenUP)
Participants from a past Sacred Water Circle Gathering discuss the importance of water and how to convey the message of its sacredness to those who make important decisions that affect the community as a whole (photo: GreenUP)

Every day each one of us uses water, but it is a luxury we take for granted.

Here in the heart of the Kawarthas, water surrounds us — it is central to our survival, lifestyle and our economy.

Many people, faiths, and cultures recognize the sacredness of water. Locally, a group of individuals from a variety of different organizations and faiths have come together to celebrate water and to foster a community ethic that recognizes the deep connections we all share with this life giving entity.

Back in 2011, indigenous people from around the world gathered in New Jersey, including the Kogi of Columbia, Hopi of Arizona, the Dali Lama, and other spiritual elders.

The group put forth a call asking indigenous people everywhere to share their knowledge about restoring balance to the environment and especially emphasized the importance of fostering a renewed relationship with water.

Locally, Dorothy Taylor from Curve Lake First Nation answered this call, bringing together a committee of interested and passionate individuals who have been working together to help create an event to share the important messages and teachings from indigenous cultures, to support other initiatives that work for water and to bring attention to water-related issues in the Peterborough area.

Called the Sacred Water Circle (SWC), the group’s vision is to bring together indigenous traditional knowledge holders and elders, political leaders, students, community members, and those in the water industry around the common goal of creating a healthier relationship with water in our daily lives.

The SWC believes that many of today’s water issues we all face are spiritual in nature (as people further disconnect from community and the natural world) and that, as such, spiritual solutions exist that can help to re-establish these conditions. Based on feedback surveys from the past two gatherings, the group has found that that youth, students, and people who work with the water feel overwhelmed by the enormous environmental challenges they face, but the gatherings have created motivation for reverence and inspired action.

Next month, the committee and our community will host visitors from around North and South America for the annual SWC Gathering, being held from May 2nd to 4th. The Gathering is an opportunity for community-based learning around local and global water issues and will bring people of different sectors, cultures and ages together to share information and inspire change in our relationship with water.

This vibrant three-day event is environmental in focus and cultural in scope. The Gathering will host indigenous spiritual leaders and community leaders from North and South America, sharing their traditional knowledge and respect for water. The event will honor the sacredness of water with ceremony, traditional indigenous teachings, and interactive dialogue between industry, scientists, professors, water professionals, and the general public. This event engages people of all ages and will encourage youth-elder mentorship, as well offer activities for kids that get them engaged in water science and understanding. All people are welcome to this event, which will also feature vendors, an art exhibit, a film screening, and performing arts.

Held the past two years on a smaller scale, 2014 marks the third and final year of the Gathering in the Kawarthas. This convergence of cultures has not happened before and is a significant world event happening in our region. For many it will be a once in a lifetime experience. It is something that our community should be proud to be hosting.

Organizers have confirmed the attendance of representatives from the Hopi Nation of Arizona, the Deline Dene First Nation, Chief Arvol Looking Horse of South Dakota, People of the Earth (formerly the Kogi) who reside in Columbia, Grandmother Josephine Mandamin, and local Traditional Teachers Shirley Williams, Dan Longboat and Doug Williams.

The registration fee for the three-day event is on a pay-what-you-can basis, ranging from $250 to $300, which includes all events, meals and refreshments, and activities. Full registration information can be found at You can also register in person by visiting the GreenUP Store at 378 Aylmer Street in Peterborough. Registration closes on April 18th. It’s recommended that you register early, as registration numbers are limited. [Editor’s note: registration is now closed, see sidebar].

To support the event, an online art auction is currently taking place in support of the event. The auction can be found at and will be running until April 22nd.

The auction features several works from local photographic artist Corin Ford Forester, as well as artists Maxine Noelle and Robert Davidson. There are also books and gift certificates to bid on. Funds raised from the auction will help to make this third annual Sacred Water Circle Gathering the largest one possible.

For more information on the event, contact Cathy Mitchell, Sacred Water Circle Coordinator, at 705-745-3238 x201 or email

Sacred Water Circle Gathering – Magic 96.7 interview with Cathy Mitchell

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Matt Higgs
Matt Higgs was GreenUP's Communications and Marketing Specialist and authored a weekly column focused on all things environmental that was published in the Peterborough Examiner and on A native of New Brunswick, Matt has called the Kawarthas and Northumberland home since 2008. Follow GreenUP on Twitter or connect with them on Facebook.