On may 21st a group of Anishnawbe women, and men came through Churchill to fill a sacred bucket with water from the Hudson bay.

The bucket was filled on the beach across from “Miss Piggy”, the infamous airplane wreck nestled into the granitoid rocks and willows up the hill. The group, along with about eight others from Churchill, including Metis elder Myrtle Demeulles, then carried that sacred bucket of water all the way to town to the train station. The walk was to honor mother earth and her resources, especially water, as it is the blood of our mother and in dire need of protection.

There’s more to the story that brings to light an even more pressing issue regarding water, not only in Churchill but all over North America…..fluoride. A local group of Churchillian activists lead by Mark Brackley  and partner, as well as my longtime friend, Erin O’neil have been lobbying for clean non-toxic water for quite awhile now. Brackley, is a pioneer activist in this battle to get fluoride…yes fluoride, out of local water. He’s been lobbying town council for over 2 years, without much success due in large part to hard-fought resistance from the Dental Board as well as the Public Health board at the hospital.

Why, you might ask, would someone want to get fluoride, an ingredient in many of our everyday tooth- paste products removed from the town water supply? Ever read the labels on most toothpaste tubes while passing time in your water closet? Scary are they not? This is one of those many environmental issues that kind of gets swept under the rug…or, more aptly, flushed down the drain without many humans hearing much about the negative effects on us and our planet.

There is extensive literature on-line and in journals to validate the fears many have of fluoridation of water supplies. This link on fluoride is a good one to start with if you’re not up to date with current fluoride information. Another article in the Thompson Gazette focuses on Churchill’s water battle raging over the past three years.You can also join Brackley’s facebook site ;’churchill nonFluoride.. to view multiple postings on the horrible effects fluoride can have on the human body, and the many consequences it has from us simply consuming it, bathing in it, cooking with it etc. And, after all those human functions are finished, the water which comes initially from the Churchill river gets dumped back into the river with 99% of the added fluoride now mixed in. The effects on marine wildlife and the ecosystem in general cannot possibly be measured at this point.

Churchill beluga whales swimming in the Churchill river.

Photo: Steve Selden

After the walk and discussing the effects of fluoridation, the elders on this walk agreed and called to have it removed! Mark, Erin and others involved in the cause felt finally supported in the ongoing battle. The grind has been, with tongue in cheek; “at times like pulling our teeth out!” stated O’neil.

An uplifting side of this story is that the Anishnawbe “earth waterwalkers” as they are known will be bringing their sacred water buckets to a powerful final ceremony with other earth waterwalkers in June in Wisconsin. The others will be collecting buckets of water from the three other coasts in North America. You can go to motherearthwaterwalk.com.

The final here- say with Churchill’s town council, is that, they are letting the supply of fluoride run out in about June this year and will not be purchasing anymore. The Public Health Department and Dental Board may try to grit their “teeth” ( sorry) and put up another fight for the fluoridation to continue. We will just have to wait and see….I’ll keep you all updated.

Erin O’Neil contributed to this report.

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