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Since I’ve been out camping, I’ve been having to haul water. I thought I would save myself some trips back and forth from the water pump down the road and fill my blue water jug full to the brim. Well, I didn’t realize that the short walk back was going to be so difficult. I had to stop and put the water jug down every few steps to rest my arms. This sure gave me a glimpse into what it must have been like to have to work for water instead of being able to turn on a tap and have it at it at the ready.

Walking back to my campsite with that heavy jug of water in hand gave me a taste of what it must have been like for those that lived off the land, and this water wasn’t even frozen! Imagine having to chip away for your water in the dead of a frigid winter?

The water certainly is high this year. Reefs to watch out for are submersed. Fire pits along shorelines in front of cabins are flooded and with all the rain we are getting the mosquitoes are out in full force.

The explanation for the high water is that the Bennet Dam spilled out roughly 570,000 litres of water per second. That’s a lot of water! With incidents such as this, without resident awareness, I think of the importance of the Transboundary Water Agreement between Alberta and the Northwest Territories that Dene Nation leader Norman Yakeleya recently spoke about when he said that it was important to have that piece of benchmarking work become legislation.

Working on the Transboundary Water Agreement was the first real government job that I had after I graduated from university. For once I was finally taken seriously as a capable employee, and an Indigenous Northern hire no less, with the skills to be able to do the work of consulting in communities on a groundbreaking agreement such as the water agreement.

The water agreement was referred to as the Kraken (a large water creature that looks like a big squid with many moving arms) and it sort of was because it was tricky having to navigate the different moving parts.

The North is home to not one but two of the largest lakes in the world and Tucho (Great Slave Lake) might be deeper and bigger than we know. We might have our own prehistoric Kraken here in the North swimming deep in our waters in underground tunnels.

Not only was the agreement between the NWT and Alberta, there was the expectation that Saskatchewan and British Columbia would get on board as well. Getting to an agreement was no easy task but an important one because it basically said that anything coming downstream from the south had better not affect our large and extensive waterways here in the North or else there will be consequences.

At the time of signing, oil was at its peak in Alberta so to have the Alberta premier sign off on the agreement was a victory for our small water team.

The need for a water agreement brings to mind the words of the great Dene prophet Ayah from Deline who warned that the Great Bear Lake will be the last freshwater lake in the world and that people will flock to it from all over.

Water is healing. There are many natural sacred pools carved out in rock across the north that the Dene would bathe before going to seek healing.

Our water is precious. We are fortunate to be living in a place that is surrounded by pristine water. Thankfully we have the cleanest water in the world and because of that we must take care of it as best we can by respecting it when we consume it and when we travel on it even if that means being grateful for the rain and the bugs that come along with it.

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