North American Water Office (NAWO) knows that Water is Life, and nature heals us in many ways. This MEF Member Organization devotes its energies to projects that positively impact the health and economic wellbeing of people who are disproportionately affected by industrial waste and pollution, including Indigenous Peoples, People of Color, and those who live at subsistence level.  


NAWO’s mission is to phase in modern renewable energy and energy efficiency systems and technologies, to phase out destructive electrical generation technologies and obsolete, abusive energy management practices, and to empower those who are disproportionately affected to utilize mitigation and remediation strategies. 


Environmental Justice Impact:

Thanks to support from MEF donors, North American Water Office founded the Wild Berry Project in 2018, in partnership with the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College at Cloquet. The project engaged 83 Tribal families and planted fruit trees and berries for use in cooking, nutrition, herbal medicine workshops, and community feasts.  Special attention was given to choose species that are preferred by tribal families and also resilient to shifting temperatures in the area due to climate change.   

In 2020, NAWO worked with Red Lake, White Earth, and Leech Lake Nations via the University of Minnesota Extension’s Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Educator, Shirley Nordrum, for the next installment of the Wild Berry Project. This round of planting included black currant, jostaberry, chokecherry, and Nanking cherry bushes, four types of blueberry bushes, as well as sugar maple trees. 

NAWO’s Wild Berry Project furthers environmental justice by projecting and honoring the traditions of Indigenous Peoples of Minnesota while building climate resilience and food sovereignty in communities that are disproportionately affected by pollution, climate change, and other environmental factors impacting human health and wellbeing.  

NAWO wants to thank the Hill’s Country Greenhouse in Bemidji for helping supply the project’s trees and berry bushes, and especially for putting a hold on beautiful sugar maple trees for this project. 

Pictured: Volunteers in NAWO’s Wild Berry Project 

To learn more about how MEF members are working together to advance environmental justice across Minnesota, visit the Impact page of our website.