Ottawa WaterWalk Updates - 1998

[Cross Canada Waterwalk 1998]     [Waterwalk main page]


November 2nd - phonecall from Eloise in Thunderbay, Ontario
October 26th - two phone messages and a phonecall from Eloise on October 25th and 26th
October 11th - two phone calls and a phone message from Eloise on October 5th
October 1st - notes from phonecall from Eloise in Ottawa
September 29th - transcribed phone message from Eloise in Ottawa
September 21st - email from North Bay, Ontario

posted: November 2, 1998
source: phonecall from Eloise in Thunderbay, Ontario

Eloise and Kerry are on their way back to British Columbia, and expect to arrive in the Slocan Valley on Friday, November 6th, and Nelson, B.C. on November 7th or 8th.

In Thunderbay they stayed with Mike and Sandy Kantymir, who previously had helped with accomodations, funding raising and publicity when WaterWalk passed through at the end of August. Eloise and Kerry expect to stop in Winnipeg and Calgary to visit with family and friends on their drive across Canada.

Eloise hopes to do writing this winter, and use the "power of the pen" to continue informing people about water issues.

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posted: October 26, 1998
source: two phone messages and a phonecall from Eloise on October 25th and 26th

October 25, 1998

We did go out to the university [Bishop's University] ...and there was maybe fifty-sixty people there that night. [Darren Bardati] had really advertised well and it was quite a thrill to talk and give the whole thing on water and what's in the water and they were fairly ignorant. Again, people don't realize what's in their water and that, but it was good at Bishop's University.

Then afterwards we went on to the Kanawake Reserve right outside of Montreal; it's the reserve where Bear Grandfather left [from to begin his walk west]. It's quite famous, and we talked with different people there. We returned the next day to speak on the Mohawk radio in the morning... Then afterwards we saw the environmental people there and then we did five classes at the school there; it was a really busy day, but it was great too. Felt quite thrilled.

Then... in Montreal, just a couple of days ago, we were on CBC Radio North, and it was translated into Cree...

Tomorrow, McGill radio is going to come over and do an interview, so it's been kind of interesting. Over a week [ago] we were on CBC in the morning... So we've got little things here and there.

On Tuesday [October 27th] I'm heading north to talk up in a place called [????????] ; it's quite far north. Do a talk there, stay overnight, then come back down, go to Ottawa. We're going to have our last Friday night vigil there... Then we're going to leave Sunday or Monday to return back to the [Slocan] Valley [in British Columbia].

It was very hard on Victoria Island, even times where it bordered violence all around us, but we were pretty safe somehow, God knows why or how come, but by the sacred fire...

It's been really hard, hard, hard, cold and hectic. It's pretty exhausting and we really tried our best to try and get it out there, but people are pretty kind of critical or they just don't want to be bothered. Like today, I talked to the guy at the Citizen- he just dropped me like at hot potato; and of course they refer you to someone else.

October 26, 1998

I'm heading north tomorrow to [???????] to give a talk. We were at the Native Friendship Centre here today, and we were interviewed by McGill radio this morning. After that, back to Montreal and then onwards to Ottawa. We've booked ourselves to try and get an appointment with the Minister of Environment- federal. We're just still waiting for news from him. We also have another candlelight vigil on Friday...

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posted: October 11, 1998
source: two phonecalls and a phone message from Eloise on October 5th

It has been very difficult to learn procedures and to know where to go around the labyrinth of Parliament Buildings. Many people seem uncaring. It is set up for busloads of tourist, but it is difficult for a citizen to just walk in and try to see people, like M.P.'s.

Eloise had gone to Jim Gouk's office [her M.P. from Kootenay-Revelstoke in B.C.] to drop off papers and make an appointment to see him. Instead she had to leave the papers at Reception and they were not received by Jim Gouk's office.

She later arranged for an assistant to Jim Gouk to pick up the papers from her in the Reception area, after which she was told to leave immediately by the security people there.

After a lot of hassle, Eloise finally got the permit to be on Parliament Hill on October 2nd. She sent the request for the permit from the Press Club, and that helped her get a prompt and favourable response.

There was rain and sixty mile per hour [kilometer per hour?] winds on the walk into Ottawa on October 2nd. Joan Rosseau, leader of the federal Green Party, accompanied WaterWalk for this last section, and found the walking scary, what with the weather and all the trucks on the TransCanada Highway. Lois Cape from Oka also accompanied WaterWalk into Ottawa. She had walked with Crying Wolf for the young people two years ago, and was more familiar with the conditions of such a walk. Joan and Eloise carried a Canadian flag as they walked into Ottawa.

Via phone message Eloise said:
"At Paliament, nobody showed up, and then later we went to Victoria Island to offer to the Elders our sacred water, and I ended up putting it on the altar inside the building cause most of the Elders were gone. They did come up and light a sacred fire for us that they haven't lit for a long time, and it was really pretty special. And then afterwards we had a sweat on the island of the last two days, and have been doing sweat and healing and cleansing and that kind of thing. It's been pretty empowering in one sense. And then the Elders also got a tent for us. We just set it up today cause I woke up the morning and I had frost all over my sleeping bag, sleeping by the sacred fire, keeping it going all night, which is quite a task. And I'm planning on fasting into next month, and just sit there by the island and maybe try to do Parliament again, or something in terms of trying to raise awarenss about the water. And then we're going to do talks here and there and all over, and just do our best to raise consciousness. It's like I say, it pretty depressing, but in McLeans they have a whole thing about the water being toxic and poison, and it is coming out. It seems like something's breaking through, but on another level, and it doesn't seem to be breaking through on the mundane level."

Eloise said she is feeling depressed at the cold reception in Ottawa. She could not get in to see any M.P.'s, including her own M.P., Jim Gouk. There is an indifference to water in Ottawa, even though McLean's magazine has a cover story about water pollution. After walking for five months, she is discouraged to be treated in Ottawa like she is a fanatic. The highlight of the day of her arrival in Ottawa was when Clem Courchene (Thunder Bear), who Eloise had met on the Sagkeeng Reserve in Manitoba, lit the sacred fire for her to maintain for the next month while she fasts on Victoria Island. Kerry will remain with Eloise on the island until All Souls Day (November 2nd), after which plans for everybody are undecided.

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posted: October 1, 1998
source: phonecall from Eloise in Ottawa

Eloise was in Montebello, Quebec (family hometown) on October 1st to pick flowers and get water. Eloise's mother will participate in the ceremony to be held in Ottawa. The flowers which were gathered will be used to do something like a sacred sand painting.

At 5 p.m. on October 2nd, she will meet with the Elders (Bear Grandmothers), and will start the sacred fire on Victoria Island [located in the Ottawa River, near Parliament]. Radio Canada will be there.

WaterWalk has only about fifty bottles of water [from water sources] at the present time.

The weather has been terrible, with wind, cold, and cold rain.

Eloise went to the Press Club in Ottawa and also has spent a great deal of time on the phone, trying to get information out about WaterWalk. Handbills have been passed out and posted, and signs have been made.

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posted: September 29, 1998
source: transcribed phone message from Eloise in Ottawa

"Hi guys, it's Eloise. I came into Ottawa early just to try and get the publicity out as much as possible. I served papers to Parliament today through our M.P. The police people asked me to leave and we were quite watched and its a real tight situation- its been pretty heavy. But anyways, we're coming through, and we went to the Press Club, where they helped us. And we've got the word out to all the newspapers, cameras, everything. We met Joan Rousseau. Everything's happening at Parliament in terms of B.C. and the pepper spray and Joan Rosseau taking the RCMP and calling the Prime Minister, whatever, because they called her an enemy of the state and they won't let her into most of the meetings and stuff. So anyways, my Mum, we're at her apartment right now...

We're getting really excited. The Bear Grandmothers are coming. We're hoping that lots of people are going to show up. It's heating up. We've been down to Victoria Island. It's quite a sight. There's sweat tents set up and we're going to have a holy fire. I'm going to start burning a fire. And we're going to stand by the fire and keep it going for the next month, all the way until All Souls Day, and then we're not sure what we're going to do. We're going to camp out there on Victoria Island and ask people to bring water, bring water, and just stand by the water and pray and meditate and everything that has to be done...

Lots of things are happening. All the radios, everybody's been contacted. We just need the churches now, if we could only get them moving, but anyways, they've been the worst people to deal with.

So, we're pretty excited. My Mum's going to go see Svend Robinson if I leave tomorrow early [to begin walking again], and we're going to try to get the papers organized for the right, the permit to be on Parliament for Friday [October 2nd]."

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posted: September 21, 1998
source: excerpt from WaterWalk handout

October on Parliament Hill

Every weekday throughout October WaterWalk will be at Parliament Hill from sunrise to sunset (behind the Parliament Buildings, by the Ottawa River) waiting for an answer from the politicians about the quality and protection of water. A candlelight vigil will be held on Parliament Hill at 9 p.m. every Friday evening until All Souls Day (November 2).

"My grandmother told me that good government is equal to the quality of water that is given to the children." (Eloise Charet)

"We've collected water as we walked across Canada, and people have brought water from around the world. Now we want to circle Parliament Hill with water, and the concerns that flow with it." (Eloise Charet)

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