Nibi Emosaawdang / The Water Walker

Nibi Emosaawdang / The Water Walker


Written and Illustrated by Joanne Robertson
Translated by Shirley Williams and Isadore Toulouse


Nokomis – our grandmothers – walk to protect our water, and to protect all of us.

The dual language edition, in Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe) and English, of the award-winning story of a determined Ojibwe Nokomis (Grandmother) Josephine-ba Mandamin and her great love for Nibi (water). Nokomis walked to raise awareness of our need to protect Nibi for future generations, and for all life on the planet. She, along with other women, men, and youth, have walked around all the Great Lakes from the four salt waters, or oceans, to Lake Superior. The walks are full of challenges, and by her example Josephine-ba invites us all to take up our responsibility to protect our water, the giver of life, and to protect our planet for all generations.

“Josephine Mandamin has inspired countless adults to care passionately about protecting the waters of the earth. Now through Joanne Robertson's magical book, Josephine will inspire children to know they can change the world.”Maude Barlow, The Council of Canadians and Water Activist

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Ojibwe Glossary & Pronunciations

Colouring Pages for The Water Walker!

Click on the buttons to download a colouring page activity. If you would like to let Nokomis Josephine know how you are protecting the water, mail your drawing and a letter to her — her address is on the colouring pages!

Teacher’s Guide for The Water Walker

Written by Laura Horton, for Grades 1-3

About the Author

Joanne Robertson is AnishinaabeKwe and a member of Atikameksheng Anishnawbek. She continues to help water walkers through live GPS spotting to make sure the water is safe on their journeys. Joanne lives near Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

Product Information

  • Release: September 10, 2019

  • $14.95 Paperback

  • 40 Pages

  • 8.5 x 7

  • Picture Book

  • Ages 6-9 / Grades 1-3

  • Lexile: 730L Guided Reading: P

  • Language: Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe) and English

  • ISBN: 9781772601008


  • Character Education
    > Strong Female Role Models

  • Environmentalism

  • History & Social Studies
    > Canadian History
    > First Nations & Indigenous Peoples
    > Social Justice

Awards for The Water Walker

  • First Nation Communities READ Indigenous Literature Award - Children’s Category - Winner

  • 2018 (Spring) - Canadian Children's Book Centre's Best Books for Kids and Teens

  • Ontario Library Association's 2018 Best Bets - Junior Non-Fiction

  • Indigenous Voices Awards 2018 - Finalist

  • AICL's Best Books of 2017 - American Indians in Children's Literature

Praise for The Water Walker

"...a worthwhile addition to classroom and public libraries and a resource for discussions about First Nations and ecology." - CM: Canadian Review of Materials

"An important topic is treated with grace, love, and a smidgen of humor in this delightful, necessary book." - Kirkus Reviews

“Josephine Mandamin has inspired countless adults to care passionately about protecting the waters of the earth. Now through Joanne Robertson's magical book, Josephine will inspire children to know they can change the world.” - Maude Barlow, The Council of Canadians, Author, and Water Activist

“This timely book will enliven story time with Grandmother Josephine's inspiring water walks. Joanne Robertson tells an important story to advance water literacy among children, young people and the young at heart." - Emma Lui, Water Campaigner for the Council of Canadians

"Joanne Roberston reconstructs Josephine's remarkable story with simple prose and colourful illustrations that will appeal to young readers." - Canadian Children's Book News

"The Water Walker is a wonderful book about conservation, environmentalism, and preservation, written in a way that even the youngest audience can understand why Nibi is important and why we should protect Nibi....  The book has the potential to be a highly interactive book around which science lesson plans could be formed. Students can discuss how they are protecting Nibi, they can write letters to Nokomis, and there can be discussion around the ways they can create change in the world, just as Nokomis did."  - Resource Links

"It is the epitome of #OwnVoices.... Robertson turned Mandamin's work into an engaging story that invites children to learn about her activism.... The Water Walker is an extraordinary book." - Debbie Reese , American Indians in Children's Literature

"[The author’s] artwork in this picture book is colorful and accessible for readers, and she gives readers a solid inspirational story on a critical topic while even adding in a bit of humor…This book would be a good addition to a school or public library, and it would also be a good addition to text sets or lessons about conservation efforts or natural resources or Native Americans." - Kutztown Review

"The simple text and colourful pictures are the perfect medium to convey the urgency of the Water Walkers' initiative. Teachers and students can use [the] story to park and ignite their own activism around water protection." - Joe Restoule General, OCT, Professionally Speaking