"Somewhere, some waterbody is a part of who you are."
- Mark Mattson, President, Swim Drink Fish, Advisor to the Onakawana Board
"My favorite part of the trip was painting my watermark. I also caught my first fish and picked some fiddleheads."
- anonymous camper
Collecting, archiving, and sharing your water stories.

The Onakawana Education Fund partners with Swim Drink Fish, a Canadian non-profit organization that works to connect people with water, to bring the Watermark Project to camp. This project is a huge collaborative effort to collect, archive and share real-life stories about the ways humans interact with water. Campers learn about humans’ dependence on water and its influence on culture. Cree Elders empower students to express their own personal connections to bodies of water through writing, drawing and painting. Helping young people connect with water and share the experience helps build unique, powerful and lasting memories that encourage them to be lifelong water stewards.


A Watermark is your personal story about a waterbody that shapes (or shaped) your life. Stories can be about a particular time in your life, or just a moment when you connected to a body of water and why that experience is important to you. A Watermark can be a fond memory, but it doesn’t have to be. It could be a story of pollution, or the feeling of being cut off from water and missing its presence in your life.

All Watermark stories help connect us to our shared water heritage. They remind us why we care about a place and remind us to protect it. Many stories have already been collected and preserved in the Watermark Project’s online national public archive to create a living record for future generations.

Inherent in Indigenous culture, storytelling is one of the oldest and most effective ways of teaching and inspiring change. It is part of everything we do at Camp Onakawana.

Click here to watch a video on one of William’s Watermark.