Lection Connection

January 10, 2021: Coming Through the Waters

From Joan Kessler


The week before Christmas, a First Nations community in northern Ontario returned home following a two-month stay in a Thunder Bay hotel because of an unsafe water supply. The Neskantaga First Nation has lived with a Boil Water Advisory for the past quarter-century, the longest of any First Nation in Canada. Long-awaited federal government funding saw upgrades to the water treatment plant begin, but there are ongoing issues related to chlorine and while the water appears cleaner, according to local residents, the Boil Water Advisory remains in place.


Moved by the desperate situation of the Neskantaga people, a Grade 4 student in Etobicoke, Ontario, decided to take action to show her support and make sure their voices calling for safe water were heard. Dawnie Codina Langschmidt turned to her school to help spread messages of care and support for the remote First Nations community. A Christmas card campaign was launched through which students across the Toronto Catholic School District were invited to send messages to youth from Neskantaga. A second letter-writing campaign is being planned for the New Year. The letters, which will call for clean running water for all First Nations communities, will be sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller.


Coming through the waters is a powerful image this first Sunday of Epiphany, when we read the familiar story of Jesus’ baptism. We hear John the baptizer’s call for a new beginning, to take some time in a new year to reflect on where we have been and consider where our baptismal journey will take us. A voice calls to us from the waters of the wilderness; may we hear the plight and take action on behalf of those who do not have access to clean drinking water in 2021. 


Explore Mark 1:4–11

  • What do you know about the quality of water in local Indigenous communities?
  • How does this Sunday’s reminder of baptism call us to a new beginning?
  • How can our faith communities be a voice for those experiencing lack of access to the basic necessities of human life?



Refreshing Spirit, we are thankful for water and for young voices that call through the wilderness. A gift of Creation, water is the essence of our very lives, physically and spiritually. May we honour and protect this gift always. Amen.


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