Water songs find their way to me through friends and family, even as an Anishinaabekwe who was born and raised on the West Coast. I do my best to pass these songs on in a good way. Since there are so few Anishinaabeg in the Pacific Northwest (well, compared to around the Great Lakes anyway), we held gatherings so we could share our language, songs, good thoughts, and of course food. Many of us also became apart of the Intertribal Canoe Family in Portland, Oregon and I hoped to bring Anishinaabeg canoe teachings and offer up songs for our relatives and the waters.
When I knew I would be moving back to the Great Lakes closer to where my family is from, I was asked by elders to record water songs that are allowed to be shared digitally so that they could continue to learn and pass these on when I was away. It was an honor to be asked to help and so I video recorded songs for White Earth elder and Intertribal Canoe Family member Mary Renville on her phone, but there was a major flaw in this process that we didn't see coming--when her phone broke, the songs were gone, and I was too far away to be re-recorded by the community. I then asked myself: How can water songs be shared in a better way that can express singing alongside the teachings and the meanings?
Fortunately, I had been collaborating with the game company Pinnguaq as well as Margaret Noodin and the Miskwaasining Nagamojig on an Anishinaabemowin singing game for passing on the language. While living beside Gichigami in Minnesota, I was grateful to meet Sharon Day who coordinates the Nibi Walks as well as Lyz Jaakola who dreamt the path of the Oshkii Giizhik Singers. And there, in the heart of the place where such vital fresh water is under threat, water carriers, singers, and language speakers came together to work on the singing game Honour Water with the hope of sharing songs for healing the waters that can be shared with all people, because the wellbeing of water is vital for all life.