Lake Superior isn’t an ocean, but it sure feels like it sometimes — especially when you can’t see the other side of it. I have to admit, I never expected the north shore of the Lake Superior region to be so beautiful.
And it’s not just the region that’s beautiful; it’s the people too. From beginning to end, our Ocean Bridge experience was a whirlwind. We spent time on the water connecting and took in cultural teachings at Pukaskwa National Park, where we overnighted together in Parks Canada’s amazing oTENTiks.
We were welcomed with open arms by the community of Pays Plat First Nation – Pawgwasheeng as it is known to most locals – where we were invited to take part in moon ceremonies, cedar baths and sweat lodges. We planted trees and learned about the amazing history of Neys Provincial Park as a prisoner-of-war camp during the 1940s. We spent National Indigenous Peoples Day at Red Rock Indian Band, where we were again hosted with such warmth and grace. And that’s just skimming the surface. Throughout it all, we heard stories and experiences about what water meant to the people who live on the “big sea” known as Lake Superior.
At the end of this 10-day odyssey, I really didn’t know how to feel. Part of me was happy to get home after such a physically and emotionally tiring trip. I gained a lot of new friendships – great friendships, among the best friends I’ve ever met. Everyone was just so kind, so open. I felt I could talk to any of the 39 other members of this cohort and they’d listen to what I was struggling with or what gets me up in the morning.
I think that openness comes from the fact that we all share the same struggles. We all find it challenging to express ourselves and our love for oceans, lakes and rivers, and sometimes it gets hard for us to understand why other people don’t care as much as we do. I think it’s just that if an environmental issue is not happening in their backyard, it’s out-of-sight, out-of-mind. That’s why I’m so glad to have met people that care as much about the water as I do.
I live in Windsor, Ont., so I don’t even live close to the ocean. I live close to the middle of our great big country. But I know all our waterways are connected, and we are all connected to them.