Over the weekend, the Shingwauk Anishinaabe Students Association partnered with Anishinaabe Studies at Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig and Anishinaabe Initiatives at Algoma University to host a Sweet Water Ceremony on the first day of Spring.
Over the next few weeks, volunteers are tapping and collecting sap from the surrounding maple trees and maintaining the fire over the harvest.
The ceremony was hosted by Dr. Andrew Judge and Chief Dean Sayers to celebrate the beginning of the harvest for sweet water.
Everyone who attended the Saturday ceremony expressed how happy they were to be able to gather together again, but with COVID restrictions, social distance had to be maintained. The circle grew and grew until it nearly took up half of the parking lot!
Elders shared their memories and stories from harvesting sweet water in the area as children. Prayers, songs and tobacco were passed along to celebrate the first day of Spring and the sweet water it brings.
There are a few different Anishinaabe words for this medicine, ninaatigwaaboo- ‘maple tree water’, wiishkabaaboo- ‘sweet water’, and ziisbaakwadaaboo- ‘sugar water.’
Anishinaabe people have been harvesting sweet water for medicine in this area for hundreds, possibly thousands of years. They had a well established, sophisticated system of collection and processing sap into syrup.
The harvesting will continue for the next few weeks, weather permitting and they have begun evaporating periodically.
More to come on the Shingwauk Anishinaabe land-based initiatives and the sweet water harvest as Spring continues to bloom.