Most people know Mississauga Ojibwe Elder Dorothy Taylor for her advocacy, knowledge and teaching about the importance of water to all life. As a volunteer, Dorothy reminds us, we must stop thinking about water as a commodity. Instead, consider it a spiritual and ecological life-force.
Dorothy also serves as a Water Walker and Knowledge Keeper from the Curve Lake First Nation. She helped found the Sacred Water Circle, a volunteer-run, not-for-profit initiative that unites Indigenous and non-Indigenous people for the benefit of water.
For her leadership and dedication, the Peterborough Rotary Club recognized her commitment with a Paul Harris Fellowship in the category of international service. Not surprisingly, she has earned recognition in other ways as well.
Peterborough Green-up has named Dorothy a community climate hero and has highlighted her teachings in two videos. One of them focused on her teachings about water in 2020, while another shared her perspectives on climate change in 2022.
Volunteer on Water Walks
Dorothy has been a central figure in many of the Water Walks that have been held in the local area. An Anishinaabeg ceremony from the Midewiwin Tradition, these walks raise awareness about water as a living entity. Participants walk around the perimeter of a selected lake, such as Little Lake, Lovesick Lake, or Rice Lake, to name a few of the local examples.
Dorothy also works with youth and other communities in the Peterborough area. She uses Indigenous knowledge to help create new relationships with the sacred waters, the earth and all non-human inhabitants in our region.
Her positive approach to leading and teaching focuses on the vision of the Sacred Water Circle:
“Inspired by traditional Indigenous teaching and leading with hope and spiritual courage, the Sacred Water Circle sees a restored relationship between human communities and water.”
Finally, Dorothy has been a key person conducting ceremony in support of Minoomin (also known as wild rice). Naturally, this crop is also linked to the importance of water.
Volunteer with Environmental Causes
Perhaps you wish to volunteer to protect water and other environmental elements. Of course, you can always get involved in the water walks and the Sacred Water Circle.
If you have other interests, we have five environmental organizations seeking volunteers right now:
GreenUP — For more than 30 years, GreenUP has been Peterborough region’s leading organization focused on climate action, environmental education and community resilience. It offers impactful hands-on environmental education programs. It also leads inspiring projects that showcase the potential for green, healthy, and active neighbourhoods. Further, its staff coordinates events and campaigns that enable collaborative action and civic participation.
Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre (and the sister organization Kawartha Turtle Hospital) — Help conserve Ontario’s turtles by volunteering with these organizations. It often requires help from individuals with specialized skills to collect and care for turtles. It also welcomes volunteers for its education, outreach and fundraising activities. You can also help drive rehabilitated turtles back to their homes in the warmer seasons.
Camp Kawartha — This accredited, award-winning, not-for-profit charity offers a broad range of innovative year-round outdoor and environmental programming. It has two sites to choose from for your volunteer experience – the Clear Lake site is in Douro-Dummer Township and the Environment Centre on the campus of Trent University.
Canadian Wildlife Federation – Want to ensure an appreciation of our natural world and a lasting legacy of healthy wildlife and habitat? The Federation strives for a future in which Canada’s wildlife is conserved for generations to come. It does so by spreading knowledge of human impacts on the environment, developing and delivering educational programs and conducting research. Finally, it promotes the sustainable use of natural resources, while advocating for effective wildlife policy and regulation.
ReFrame Film Festival — This celebration of documentary film and media art centres on social and environmental justice. Its central programming unfolds via the main midwinter film festival. It typically occurs at the end of January each year in Nogojiwanong/Peterborough, as well as across Canada through an online platform.
Whichever works for you, reach out to find out more details. Let them know that Volunteer Peterborough sent you their way!