What an incredible event last week! Hundreds of people came together on November 29th and 30th for our State of the Bay: Lands & Waters Gathering to learn about the health of Georgian Bay, to be inspired by caretaking and community projects, and to check out the Indigenous Art Exhibit & Sale.
The Gathering began with representatives from invited non-profits, universities, cottage associations, and First Nation, federal, provincial, and municipal governments coming together to learn about the indicators in the 2023 State of the Bay Report from knowledge holders and scientists. Presentation topics included biodiversity, water quality, the aquatic lower food web, and fish in the biosphere region.
The public was invited to the free evening session which began with a performance by the Little Spirit Singers, led by Ozawaanimkeeqwe (Deina Bomberry). Attendees then learned about the approach and findings of the State of the Bay from GBB’s Katrina Krievins, and the important role of Indigenous art and the magazine’s centrefold piece “Seasons” from Magnetawan First Nation artist Mishiikenh Kwe (Autumn Smith). The evening ended with the keynote presentation “Let’s be the Warriors of the Bay (Mnisnoowidaa),” given by Dr. Brian McInnes (Waabishki-makwa) from Wasauksing First Nation.
Together with Georgian Bay Anishinaabek Youth (GBAY), we also co-hosted an Indigenous Art Exhibit & Sale during the gathering! A dozen local artists attended including Oshkishkode, students from Parry Sound High School’s Indigenous Studies classes whose artwork raised money for their annual powwow.
On day two of the Gathering, members of the public, students from Parry Sound High School, and State of the Bay partners attended to hear youth and community leaders speak in moderated circle discussions. In each circle, individuals shared how the organizations or governments they are working for, and their jobs specifically, are addressing the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss. We were honoured to have MinWeWe open and close the final day of the Gathering with their beautiful songs.
Thank you to sponsors The Township of The Archipelago, Henvey Inlet Wind, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and the Ontario government for making this event possible.