Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON – Biinaagami – meaning “clear water” in the language of the Anishinaabek peoples of the Great Lakes, Anishinaabemowin – is a powerful and change-provoking multi-year program to engage and activate national and international audiences in education, conservation, restoration, protection, celebration and enjoyment of the greater Great Lakes ecosystem and reconciliation with the Indigenous peoples of the watershed.
Generously supported by RBC, Biinaagami is a partnership between Canadian Geographic, Royal Canadian Geographic Society and Swim Drink Fish. Over the next three years, Biinaagami will bring together conservationists, maritime industrialists, Indigenous leaders, magazine editors, and documentary film producers to tell the story of the world’s great freshwater oceans, their wider ecosystem and the First Peoples who call them home through documentary films, interactive maps, educational materials, art and museum exhibits.
On the 50th anniversary of the US-Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, one day before the Great Lakes Public Forum begins in Niagara Falls, the partners will gather to receive an Indigenous welcome, participate in an Indigenous-led water and canoe ceremony, learn about the significance of the Two Row Wampum Belt Treaty and hear from Indigenous leaders from around the Lakes.
“It is only through working together to conserve and restore the greater Great Lakes ecosystem that we can truly advance reconciliation. Welcome to the shores of Niigaani-gichigami, the leading sea, Lake Ontario,” said Patrick Madhabee, former Grand Chief of the Anishanabee.
Mark Mattson, noted freshwater conservationist and CEO of Swim Drink Fish says, “I am very excited to gather together with colleagues and friends to launch Biinaagami and celebrate the Great Lakes and their Original peoples. We pledge to work together for a more swimmable, fishable and drinkable Great Lakes ecosystem.”
“The greater Great Lakes watershed, the St Lawrence and its mighty freshwater estuary are a world renowned and vital part of Canada’s and the world’s geography,” said John Geiger, CEO of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. “We are thrilled by RBC’s support and very excited to partner with Swim Drink Fish and colleagues to advance cleaner waters, Biinaagami, and to make the greater Great Lakes ecosystem better known to Canadians and the world.”
For more information, visit www.biinaagami.org.