The Anishinaabeg have made their home on Mikinaak Minis (Turtle Island) since time immemorial and have a special relationship with the land, skies, waters, soils and all the creatures of Aki (Earth). During the Anishinaabe Aki Kakendamowin (AAK), the Elders noted the importance of making sure the lands, skies, soils, and water were being protected and the promises being made (i.e., the mitigation measures) were kept. To monitor the impacts of the Twinning activities, the Niiwin Wendaanimok Partnership is exploring the creation of an Anishinaabe Guardians Program.
Across Canada, Indigenous Guardians programs are designed to protect sensitive ecological and cultural sites. Guardians work to monitor the environmental health of sites, develop land-use plans, and support the intergenerational transmission of Indigenous traditional knowledge. The teachings of the MAI as well as the knowledge contained within the AAK will inform the mission of the Anishinaabe Guardians. Although the AAK has only just begun, its already a considerable repository of cultural and historic information. As such, Anishinaabe culture will be interwoven in daily operations of the Guardians Program.
Furthermore, the Guardians will incorporate Anishinaabe ceremonial and spiritual observances in their work. Along each step of the Highway Project, the Niiwin Wendaanimok have brought the process into ceremony, with feasting, drum songs, and gift giving. In preparation for construction activities, Elders and spiritual leaders will participate in on-site ceremonies to ask permission from the spirits for safe passage and alteration of the land.