Led jointly by the International Secretariat for Water, ÉcoMaris and Wapikoni Mobile, the The Sentinels for Water is a project involving young Aboriginals aged 15 to 30 of the Algonquin, Inuit and Atikamekw nations living in six different communities in Quebec.
To raise awareness of local communities to local, national and international water issues and to invite them to produce short film clips on water.
The best video clip producers will be invited to participate in a boating expedition on the Amazon River in Brazil in spring 2011. They will meet native Brazilian communities and will have the opportunity to produce other videos with them on water issues. They will thus contribute to a vast network of Aboriginal peoples.
By drawing up an action plan and involving other members of their community, the young people, who will receive the title “Sentinels for Water” will contribute to increasing awareness among their peers and will initiate their own projects for water.
On Wednesday 10 August, the 1st edition of the Mushuau-nipi Youth Initiatives came to a close. For this first year, 12 young Aboriginals and Quebecers participated in a project focusing on literature, speaking out and identity, as well as a youth seminar on water and human rights, organised jointly by the International Secretariat for Water, Amnesty International of French-Speaking Canada and the association of Native friendship centres of Quebec.
Through a series of workshops – with the writers Jean Sioui and Maya Cousineau Mollen, and researcher Maurizio Gatti – and activities in the field to do with native knowledge, the young people were taught about their literary heritage, speaking out individually and as a group and about the importance of their voice and their actions in defining their future. Furthermore, in the wake of these activities, the youth seminar was an occasion to draft a collective statement that will be presented at the 6th world water forum to take place in Marseille in 2012.
Official champion of the Mushuau-nipi Youth Initiatives, Ghislain Picard was present and talked with the young Aboriginals, among others during an exchange circle that concluded the 1st edition of the Youth Initiatives. According to Chief Picard “[these] young people are the first ambassadors of a movement to reconnect with their identity, a movement of awareness and mobilisation that can only grow stronger”.
Following the workshops and the seminar, the young participants produced a declaration which is called RESPECT MY VOICE.
Le 24 octobre 2011, le projet des Sentinelles de l’eau a reçu une distinction pour son implication dans les communautés autochtones dans le cadre du gala "Misez Eau" organisé par le Regroupement des organismes de Bassins versants du Québec (ROBVQ). M. Raymond Jost, Secrétaire général du Secrétariat International de l'Eau, était sur place pour recevoir le prix des mains du Ministre du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et des Parcs, M. Pierre Arcand et du Chef de l'Assemblée des Premières Nations, M. Ghislain Picard.
En 2010, le SIE, en collaboration avec ÉcoMaris et Wapikoni Mobile, a développé un projet terrain concernant la mise en pratique du concept des Sentinelles de l’eau. Environnement Canada en était le principal partenaire financier. Le projet visait à sensibiliser des jeunes autochtones vivant dans différentes communautés du Québec aux problématiques liées à la qualité de l’eau dans leur environnement. Les cinq communautés visitées au cours de l’été ont été celles du Lac Simon (Nation Anishnabe), Uashat mak Mani-Utenam (Nation Innu), Opticiwan (Nation Atikamekw), Pessamit (Nation Innu), Matimekush (Nation Innu).