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Josephine Mandamin among 3 honourees in Canada Post’s 2024 Indigenous Leaders Stamp Series

Josephine Mandamin, an environmentalist from Wikwemikong First Nation in northwestern Ontario, is one of three inspirational individuals featured in Canada Post’s 2024 Indigenous Leaders Stamp Series. 

The postal service unveiled the Mandamin stamp in Thunder Bay, Ont., this week, the latest in the three-stamp set to mark National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21.

“She never did this for any public recognition or status; she did it for the work and the spirit that moved her,” Mandamin’s daughter, Regina Mandamin, said of her mother, who died in 2019.

The stamp series, which debuted in 2022, highlights Indigenous people who devote themselves to the environment, preservation of their heritage and using their voices to create change. Over the past month, Canada Post announced the others featured in the upcoming stamp set are Métis artist Christi Belcourt of Toronto and Inuk artist Elisapie from Quebec.

The ceremony commemorating Mandamin and her activism was held Tuesday in Thunder Bay, and included members of the community and her friends and family. 

She’s being honoured for her tireless protection of nibi — the water — and her awareness walks around the Great Lakes to bring attention to water pollution. 

WATCH | Honouring Josephine Mandamin:

Honouring Josephine Mandamin

17 hours ago

Duration 2:27

Canada Post is honouring Josephine Mandamin in its third annual Indigenous Leaders stamp series. Family and friends gathered in Thunder Bay, Ont., to commemorate Mandamin and the work she did as an environmentalist and water protection advocate.

Mandamin first began her water-walking journey in 2003 after hearing a prophecy from Grand Chief Eddie Benton-Banais regarding the state of the water, according to Joanne Robertson of Atikameksheng Anishnawbek, her spiritually adopted sister, and author of the book The Water Walker. 

Benton-Banais predicted that by 2023, water would cost as much as gold and asked Mandamin: “What are you going to do about it?” Robertson said. 

It inspired Mandamin to begin her water walks. 

Her daughter looks at her in awe because of all that she has overcome and accomplished, Regina Mandamin said, describing her mother as “humble.”

A woman stands in front of poster of unveiled postage stamp.
Regina Mandamin stands in front of the stamp featuring her mother, Josephine. (Marc Doucette/CBC)

Josephine’s legacy of protecting water was passed on to her great niece, Autumn Pelletier, who is also a water advocate. 

Pelletier earned national recognition in her teens, when she criticized Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for choices he made for her people and the water. She continues to use her platform and voice to continue the conversation begun by her auntie. 

Mandamin’s legacy has left a lasting impression on Robertson, who first met her in university after Mandamin had already walked around the Great Lakes, Pelletier said.

Robertson was inspired by Mandamin’s message and began helping co-ordinate walks and contributing to bringing awareness to the cause. 

Robertson, who had been adopted and raised by a family in southern Ontario, said she found a true connection to Mandamin.

“My life for a time often felt like I was floating down two separate rivers, but when I did my work with Josephine, she accepted me as I was and it felt like my two rivers came together in one big lake so I felt whole,” Robertson said.

The stamp advisory committee discusses dozens of inspiring individuals every year who could be honoured with stamps, according to Eli Yarhi, manager of stamp development at Canada Post.

a photo of Josephine Mandamin stamp with water is sacred fabric.
Mandamin’s stamp. She’s being honoured for her tireless protection of nibi — the water — and her awareness walks around the Great Lakes. (Marc Doucette/CBC)

This year’s honourees were chosen with guidance from the Assembly of First Nations, he said.

“This ongoing series is a means to tell these important stories of Indigenous leaders from across the land hoping that everyone can see themselves reflected in this stamp program,” Yarhi added.

People can purchase the stamps and collectibles on the Canada Post website or at any postal outlet across the country.

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