A Voice from the Eastern Door

New Stamps Honors Inuk Singer-Songwriter & Anishinaabe Water-Protector Elder

At an event in Thunder Bay on Tuesday, June 18, 2024, Canada Post unveiled a stamp honoring Anishinaabe Elder and world-renowned water-rights activist, Josephine Mandamin.

This stamp is one of three Indigenous Leaders stamps that will be released on June 21. The set is the third in Canada Post's multi-year Indigenous Leaders series.

Known as Grandmother Water Walker, Mandamin (1942-2019) trekked more than 25,000 kilometers to draw attention to issues of water pollution and environmental degradation in the Great Lakes and on First Nations reserves across the country.

Born in 1942 on the Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory on Manitoulin Island, Ont., Mandamin was a residential school Survivor who attended St. Joseph's School for Girls. In 1979, she and her husband moved to Thunder Bay, where she worked providing support to Indigenous youth and to women and children escaping domestic violence.

Mandamin was a fourth-degree member of the Three Fires Midewiwin Healing Society and its Grandmothers Council, where she served as a spiritual adviser and healer. She performed healing ceremonies and taught others about Anishinaabe language and culture, and how to maintain a respectful relationship with Mother Earth. She also spent many years as the Anishinabek Nation Chief Water Commissioner.

In 2002, Mandamin and a group of other Anishinaabeg founded the Mother Earth Water Walk movement to encourage people to protect water from pollution and other threats. Between 2003 and 2017, she led walks along the shores of waterways in Canada and the United States where she sang, prayed and shared the traditional ceremonies and knowledge of her people.

Since her passing in 2019, Mandamin's legacy lives on through community water walks and the efforts of the Anishinaabe women she mentored. Her many honours included the Meritorious Service Cross – Civil Division (2017) for her contributions to Indigenous leadership and reconciliation, and the Lieutenant Governor's Ontario Heritage Award for Excellence in Conservation (2015).

On Thursday, June 13 in Montreal, Canada Post unveiled a stamp honoring Elisapie, an award-winning singer-songwriter, actor, director, producer and activist.

The talented storyteller, who writes and sings in Inuktitut, English and French, has devoted her life to sharing and raising awareness of Inuit language, traditions and culture through her many artistic endeavors.

Born Elisapie Isaac in 1977 in the remote community of Salluit, in Nunavik (northern Quebec), Elisapie sang in church and performed on stage with her uncle's band in her youth. After moving to Montréal to study communications, she wrote and directed the prize-winning documentary short, Sila piqujippat (If the Weather Permits, 2003) and won a JUNO Award as part of the musical duo Taima.

Elisapie's love for her Inuit homeland and culture is entrenched in her work, including four solo albums: There Will Be Stars (2009), Travelling Love (2012), The Ballad of the Runaway Girl (2018) and Inuktitut (2023). The latter earned her a second JUNO Award for Contemporary Indigenous Artist or Group of the Year. In 2021, she created and produced Le grand solstice for Radio-Canada – a musical and cultural celebration televised annually to mark National Indigenous Peoples Day.

Elisapie currently lives in Montréal but frequently returns to Salluit to visit friends and family. Her many awards and honors include the Ambassador Prize at the 2011 Teweikan Awards for her work as an artist and activist; the Félix Award for Indigenous Artist of the Year (2020); being named Compagne des arts et des lettres du Québec (2021); and receiving an honorary doctorate from Concordia University (2023).

Launched in 2022, the multi-year Indigenous Leaders series celebrates First Nations, Métis and Inuit leaders who dedicated their lives to preserving their culture and improving the quality of life of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. This year, Canada Post will issue three stamps on National Indigenous Peoples Day in honor of Indigenous leaders Elisapie, Josephine Mandamin and Christi Belcourt.

On Tuesday, June 25, the stamp recognizing Christi Belcourt will be celebrated at an event in Ottawa. The new stamps and collectibles will be available at canadapost.ca and postal outlets across Canada starting June 21.

 

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