(For pictures, contact Niklas Högberg firstname.lastname@example.org, 0707-544840)
This spring Maria-Conchita Högberg got a vision to walk for the world’s water. Simultaneosly, Dee Kyne started walking the world to make ecocide a crime against peace. Recently they met during the Council of the “Grandmothers of the Earth" – 13 Indigenous Grandmothers – held in Sweden. They decided to walk together to the lake of Vättern to highlight the threats that this lake is facing.
Maria Conchita Högberg and Dee Kyne have recently embarked on a pilgrimage for the water of lake Vättern and Nature's rights. They follow the St. Bridget trail from Linköping to Vadstena and on to Gränna. Their goal is to create awareness of the threats against lake Vättern as a cherished natural area and Europe´s largest drinking water supply. These threats include extended defence operations for flight and firing exercises, munitions dumping and applications from companies to begin gas drilling as well as excavation of rare minerals and iron ore.
Maria Conchita Högberg works in Stockholm as an artist and a health therapist. She also has a strong commitment to the health of the earth and future generations:
- Many ecosystems are now out of balance because of human activities. If nature gets sick so will we. Indigenous peoples teach us that everything is connected. As humans we have a huge impact, we have to use that power in constructive ways. Protecting our water is among the most important thing we can do. Everything we dump into the water, we then drink.
Dee Kyne is an experienced CEO and social entrepreneur, with a passion to improve access to health, the environment and education for excluded communities. Dee too was called to do more for future generations. During her two-year long trek she collects signatures for a European Citizens' Initiative (www.endecocide.eu) to make habitat destruction a fifth crime against peace:
- Sweden is alone in Europe deliberately contaminating their drinking water reserves, as is being done in lake Vättern. Ecocide means that such destruction will be equated with war crimes, or genocide. Some countries have already introduced Nature's rights in their constitutions, with nature as a legal entity - his is as profound as when human rights were introduced. Now we need a law that implements the words into action.
At the Open Council, the Indigenous Grandmothers performed ceremonies for the water and called for action guided by their principle that all decision must take into account the next seven generations. Emöke Heim from Act to Rescue Vättern (ARV=heritage) argued that this principle hitherto has been absent in the treatment of Vättern:
- Vättern is a future drinking water supply for the whole Stockholm region, and a sensitive Natura 2000 area. When polluted the water needs 62 years to be renewed. It is impacted by constant exercises with jet fighters. A company wants to break rare earths metals in a pit between Gränna and Ödeshög, what happens if the leachate floods the catchment areas? Or if the bedrock under southern Vättern gets undermined, as it is in Kiruna?
Dee had decided to walk to Vattern to support the activists who had been fighting long and hard, and Maria-Conchita views Vättern as a crucial issue for the future of the whole of Sweden:
- Therefore we make an outer and inner pilgrimage in the footsteps of St. Bridget – if she was alive today she would stand on the barricades herself. For me, there is also a spiritual dimension, as the water is seen as alive and sacred in my own Afro-Cuban tradition.
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