News Updates sent across the Federation
January 22, 2021
January 26, 10 - 11:30 am
Water For All: a conversation with Water First
Join our conversation with John Millar (Executive Director and Founder) from Water First -- an organization addressing these water challenges through education, training and meaningful collaboration. Hear about their work, reflections, and how Canada can ensure water for all.
Register in advance for this webinar:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. PLEASE BRING A GLASS OF WATER WITH YOU.
January 22 - 29
The ReFrame Film Festival, online across Ontario
We are sponsoring the Water Stories – Shorts program – 7 films, full list here. Try our Coupon Code: WS-Sponsor
See the full lineup here – very affordable rates for viewing all these docs:
Contact Paul if you have any questions. These online things can be complicated – even for Paul.
February 24 & 25
Sustainable Development goals in Peterborough
Paul has met 3 times with a local water circle that is adapting these United Nations Sustainable Development Goals locally which include: SDG #1 No Poverty, SDG # 4 Quality Education, SDG #6 Clean Water and Sanitization, and SDG #13 Climate Action.
There is an online Community Forum Feb 24 and 25. For those in the Peterborough area rsvp here:
People’s Water Campaign phase 2 survey:
The Wellington Water Watchers are seeking your input. Help strengthen our collective efforts toward water justice, organize better events in the future, and create valuable insights to learn more about online community organizing.
One Planet, One Right
Sign the petition to make it a UN-recognised human right to live on a healthy planet. It may seem overwhelming, but it’s true: to emerge from these crises, to ensure our future and that of the planet, we need to entirely transform humanity’s relationship with nature. This human right helps make that happen.
New blog post -- Water is Alive: a conversation
On January 13, there was a conversation between several Indigenous water leaders and their reflections on ways to recognize water as a spirited being with agency.
First Nations communities pursue clean drinking water through the courts
Court documents state that the lake has been contaminated by feces and toxic blue-green algae blooms have become common. Fishermen regularly catch fish “covered with grotesque lesions” and the community erected signs to deter swimming there. Following a flood in the spring of 2017, residents began falling sick with stomach and skin ailments after consuming the local water, prompting a boil-water advisory that remains in effect.
Government of Canada launches consultations on new Canada Water Agency
Water challenges such as droughts, floods, and deteriorating water quality are intensifying, due in large part to climate change. Canadians are seeing these costly impacts first-hand in their communities, across the country. That's why the Government of Canada is establishing the Canada Water Agency to find the best ways to keep our water safe, clean, and well managed. The Canada Water Agency will be established in close collaboration with provinces, territories, Indigenous Peoples, and other partners.
November 2, 2020
Every few weeks our Coordinator Paul Baines collects and shares a list of current news and invites that inform and animate our Blue Community pledge to protect water as a human right, shared commons, and sacred gift.
In this update you can learn more about the Waterdocs Film Festival, a new effort to transfer Nestlés’ water operations to Indigenous and settler communities, new rules and old myths about plastics and recycling, and COVID and the human right to water.
WATERDOCS FILM FESTIVAL
From November 4 – 8, this annual water documentary festival is now available to everyone. Normally it is an in-person event only in Toronto, but because of COVID anyone can access these great documentaries. The CSJ Blue Community project is a sponsor and has VIP access. You can see the full program here.
ASK NESTLÉ TO DIVEST ITS ASSETS
The collective efforts to phase out the bottled water industry in Ontario is getting bolder. We successfully won yet another 6 month extension to the 4 year ban on new bottled water permits. We helped influence a new permit policy framework that is still in development but it already signals that communities will be able to veto new bottled water wells.
Now there is a North American campaign asking Nestlé to give back some of its assets to the local communities who are struggling with current and future water security. A few months ago Nestlé was trying to sell its Canadian water operations to Ice River Springs. That sale was denied by the regulators and now water justice activists are asking “if you want to divest from Canada, give communities back their water commons”.
You can read about and sign onto the North American campaign here and the Wellington Water Watchers have already signalled that the Aberfoyle Nestlé bottling plant and well should be given to Six Nations of the Grand River with the Hillsborough well going to Centre Wellington County and the Middlebrook well going to Elora. Much more work is being done on this campaign, since these are BIG shifts in the struggle for water justice. As the campaign develops your CSJ Blue Community project will keep you up to date.
THE MYTH, THE BIN, AND THE NEW RULES: PLASTICS
Plastics are again in the news with the Federal government announcing its plans to ban various kinds of ‘single use’ plastic. The initial promises seem very progressive.
Announcing plans to reach zero plastic waste by 2030, the federal government's website noted that "every year, Canadians throw away 3 million tonnes of plastic waste, only 9% of which is recycled, meaning the vast majority of plastics end up in landfills." (from the CBC)
But guess what didn’t make the list?
Items included in the ban (source):
Beverage six-pack rings
Food packaging made from plastics that are difficult to recycle
Items not included in the ban:
Snack food wrappers
Disposable personal care items and their packaging
Beverage containers and lids
Contact lenses and packaging
Items used in medical facilities
Personal protective equipment
Canadians spend 2.5 billion dollars every year on bottled water. Almost all of this comes in single use plastic bottles. That’s a lot of bottles with only about 20% of these bottles downcycled.
There is no such thing as plastic recycling. This myth was created by the plastics and fossil fuel industries 30 years ago because society was starting to question the rise of plastics and their negative impacts. Downcycling is the process of recycling a material 1, 2, or 3 times with each phase degrading the material so that it can only be landfilled.
Read and listen to this CBC interview with an investigative journalist about the industrial myth of plastic recycling and how we are still struggling with this pervasive and persuasive substance.
If you like, add your name and voice to this petition to include single use plastic water bottles in the Canada plastics ban.
COVID AND THE HUMAN RIGHT TO WATER
The World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Water Network moderated a conversation on the human right to water in times of COVID-19 with Bishop Arnold Temple (chairperson of the WCC-EWN) and Dr. Maude Barlow (co-founder of the Blue Planet Project). You can listen to the 27 minute recording here.
On a related note, our Blue Community project has started collaborating with WaterAid Canada about the human right to water and sanitation. You can read one of their bulletins here. From that same source they write:
As COVID-19 has devastating impacts on people’s health, education and livelihoods across the globe, hand washing has been recognized as a first line of defense in public health. At WaterAid, our experience of promoting hand washing with soap and water as part of our WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) and behavior change programs has enabled us to respond quickly to COVID-19, scaling up our existing hygiene work through government-led mechanisms, focusing mainly on hygiene behavior change.
40% of people worldwide don’t have access to soap and water to wash their hands.
Three billion people worldwide have nowhere to wash their hands with soap and clean water at home.
1 in 4 health centers lack these basic hand washing facilities on site.
2 in 5 schools globally do not have soap and water available to students – that’s 800 million children who lack soap and water at their school.
September 14, 2020
“Walking the Talk”: activating for the water
September 21, 10 – 11:30 am
The People’s Water Campaign is making connections between Ontario-based water injustices. This session focuses on various expressions and experiences protecting water as shared commons and sacred gift. One of the goals for the September 26th PWC Watershed 2020 digital convention is an invitational statement that supports this growing movement. Join Paul Baines and Tasha Beeds to learn about the written and experiential ways water protectors are stepping into their leadership roles. See more and sign up:
All Nations Grand River Water Walk
September 12 – 19
The All Nations Water Walk will begin at Lake Erie and follow the beautiful water way to the source in Dundalk. The walk honours the water and connects all peoples to creation. It is a walk to honour and remember the teachings of the first water walker, Josephine - Baa Mandamin; other special water walkers who have walked on including Violet Caibaiosai; and those who walk today. Send your prayers and follow their progress on Facebook:
TED RADIO HOUR - Our Relationship With Water
We need water to live. But with rising seas and so many lacking clean water — water is in crisis and so are we. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around restoring our relationship with water. Guests on the show include legal scholar Kelsey Leonard, artist LaToya Ruby Frazier, and community organizer Colette Pichon Battle. Listen to this 50 min recording:
Our 'futurecestors' deserve a voice in today's decisions, says authorTo become better ancestors, public philosopher Roman Krznaric says, we must take long view. . This episode is the first in our series called The Common Good. Throughout the season, we will ask one basic question: what do we owe each other? Listen here:
A decade after UN declared water a human right, it’s time for Canada to make it law,
By Vi Bui, water campaigner, Council of Canadians .
We have an opportunity to apply the human rights framework to water policy development and implement the human right to water. In practice, this means the government would address drinking water issues in First Nations, put in place national drinking water standards and work with other jurisdictions to protect Canada’s fresh water — and the Canada Water Agency is the right mechanism to do so. Read the full article:
Province Proposes Extension to Water Bottling Moratorium
The province is considering a six-month extension to the current moratorium on water bottling permits. On Aug. 28 the Ministry of Conservation and Parks proposed extending the moratorium on new or increased permits to take ground water for bottled water until April. 1, 2021. Comments on the proposal, which can be found at ero.ontario.ca/notice/019-2319, must be submitted by Sept. 27. Full article:
Promises to the Water
Other landowners acted as allies, or accomplices, as Waasekom prefers to say. Some settlers find their environmental concerns overlap with Wassekom’s (and LeeAnne’s) desire to become better caretakers of the water. Pollution, plastics, declining fish populations, invasive species, shoreline energy production, climate change….there is an endless list of threats to the Great Lakes.
Read the full article:
United Human Rights report on the Right to Water – fact sheet
Report starts by explaining what the right to water is, illustrates what it means for specific individuals and groups, and then elaborates upon State obligations with respect to the right. It concludes with an overview of national, regional and international accountability and monitoring mechanisms.
See our Blue Resources section for the report and also through this link:
August 18, 2020
This summer, our CSJ Blue Community project has been active in supporting the People's Water Campaign -- an effort to connect and strengthen various water justice causes in Ontario.
There have been several online conversations already on some of the key issues: plastics, privatization, and the pending sale of Nestlé operations in Canada to Ice River Springs. These events help us all understand the related impacts of water politics and guide our plans for a more just and beautiful future.
Our project Coordinator Paul Baines has prepared 3 new blog posts on the Blue Community website for you to read and share. Each post includes a video recording of the webinar and follow up actions.
Part 1: Plastics and Pollution
Part 2: All Eyes on Nestlé
Part 3: Water Privatization
There will be more events coming for the People's Water Campaign this September, including one by Paul Baines about the purpose and power of various water justice declarations and commitments.
Some good Blue Community news!!
July 28, 2020 marks a significant milestone in the fight to protect water. Ten years ago, the United Nations General Assembly recognized water and sanitation as fundamental human rights. Canada joined this international consensus in 2012, however, successive federal governments have failed to provide a framework or legislation to implement or enforce these rights. COVID-19 has made it even clearer that universal access to safe, clean water and adequate sanitation must be a reality to all. Click the link to read the full story.
Did you know that our Blue Community project now has a Facebook page? Here you will see related news items and recent project updates. You can join and invite others to join here:
In-person events will likely not happen this fall, so the CSJ Blue Community Steering Committee is helping Paul plan at least one online gathering. Here, you will be able to ask your questions, connect to the growing water justice movement, and dedicate the upcoming Season of Creation to the life of water.
July 8, 2020
Did you know our CSJ Blue Community project now has a Facebook page? Join now, invite your friends, and share our posts.
Monday July 13 at 7pm
A webinar to discuss the implications of Nestlé's decision to sell operations in Wellington County and Hope BC to Ice River and next steps in the Say No To Nestlé campaign. See the articles below for more information on this news. RSVP here:
Tuesday, July 14 at 10am
Wellington Water Watchers is hosting a webinar on the threat that public private partnership pose to public water systems in Canada. Join WWW on at 10am on Tuesday July 14 for the webinar “Resisting Water Privatization: from Mapleton ON to Berlin, Germany”
These two events are part of the People’s Water Campaign this summer and fall in preparation for new Provincial rules coming about bottled water permits. Sign up for the September 26th convention:
Stop the Nuclear Waste Dump (DGR) in the Municipality of South Bruce. Add your name.
Tell the federal government to create a comprehensive single-use plastic ban list!
TC Energy is proposing a $3.3 billion pumped storage plant to be built on Department of National Defense land near Meaford Ontario, using Georgian Bay as a reservoir. Say “no” with this Federal petition:
Share your thoughts on the creation of a Canada Water Agency.
The Government of Canada is creating a new Canada Water Agency to work together with the provinces, territories, Indigenous communities, local authorities, scientists and others to find the best ways to keep our water safe, clean and well-managed.
The Water Song. If you have read this far, maybe you are exhausted and in need of some spiritual rejuvenation. Too many petitions and webinars tire the soul. Try this. Centre some water in your gaze. This could be a glass of water, a puddle, or a local stream or lake. Say and repeat these words 4 times:
Water, we love you.
We thank you.
We respect you.
These are the words written by Doreen Day for her ‘Nibi Song’. Doreen is Anishinaabe so she sings these words in her language:
Nestlé is selling its operations in Ontario. From the Council of Canadians website:
Last week’s announcement of Nestlé Waters leaving Canada is a great milestone in this David vs Goliath story, and a victory for the community groups, First Nations and residents across Canada fighting the multi-national bottled water giant. We know the fight against water takings is not over, and there are still many questions about what this move means.
Over the past few days, the Council of Canadians has been looking into the details of the sale and finding out more about Ice River Springs. Here’s what we know so far about Nestlé’s sale of its Pure Life brand to the Canadian-owned company and what we still need to learn.
Environmentalists cheer as Nestle sells Canadian water business
If there is loose COVID cash, what better use than to stop the sewage flowing into Canada's waters
While 90 per cent of America’s community water systems were in compliance with Environmental Protection Agency standards in 2016, 24 per cent of Canada’s wastewater systems failed to meet Environment Canada’s quality criteria.
In that year, two billion cubic metres (more than 500 billion gallons) of untreated, or under-treated, effluent was flushed into the country’s waterways. That’s enough wastewater to fill 800,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
How the Indian Act continues to impact the lives of First Nation people
There is no piece of legislation that has had more of an influence on the lives of First Nation people in Canada than the Indian Act.
Aqua fons vitae: orientations on water: symbol of the cry of the poor and the cry of the Earth. Vatican City, March 2020.
“Today, more than ever, we need to look beyond immediate concerns and beyond purely utilitarian views of reality. According to this utilitarian approach, efficiency and productivity are geared to the self serving profit of small interest groups. The human dignity of so many people is disregarded, since they do not seem to be a primary concern for policies, infrastructures and investments.
We urgently need longterm shared projects, supported by valid ethical references, a healthy anthropology, and genuine motivations. Water management can find a strong inspiration in the Catholic Social Teaching, especially in papal contributions about human dignity, solidarity, justice, universal destination of goods, subsidiarity, common good, integral ecology and integral human development, and the priority of option for the poor.” Read the full report:
What are microplastics and single-use plastics?
Plastic Rain Is the New Acid Rain
Writing in the journal Science, researchers report a startling discovery: After collecting rainwater and air samples for 14 months, they calculated that over 1,000 metric tons of microplastic particles fall into 11 protected areas in the western US each year. That’s the equivalent of over 120 million plastic water bottles.
Analysis of US cities shows emergency on affordability of running water amid Covid-19 pandemic.
Exclusive analysis of 12 US cities shows the combined price of water and sewage increased by an average of 80% between 2010 and 2018, with more than two-fifths of residents in some cities living in neighbourhoods with unaffordable bills. In the first nationwide research of its kind, our findings reveal the painful impact of America’s expanding water poverty crisis as aging infrastructure, environmental clean-ups, changing demographics and the climate emergency fuel exponential price hikes in almost every corner of the US.
April 20, 2020
EARTH DAY EVENTS
Emergence Magazine Conversation
Join the Emergence Magazine community to discuss the legacy of Earth Day since its inception 50 years ago and the literary history of the environmental movements that soon followed. The New Yorker’s Paul Elie is a featured guest. His work examines the ways religious ideas are expressed in literature, the arts, music, and culture. This live conversation will also include a moderated Q&A with the audience.
When: Apr 21, 2020 3:00 PM
Earthrise Screening Party with Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee
“Earthrise" tells the story of the first image captured of the Earth from space in 1968. This iconic image had a powerful impact on the Apollo 8 astronauts and the world. Told 50 years later, "Earthrise" compels us to remember this shift and to reflect on the Earth as a shared home. There will be time after the screening for a live discussion with Emmanuel and a moderated Q&A with the audience.
When: Apr 22, 2020 3:00 PM
New 90 minute film: OUR WATER
Four friends kayaked around Lake Superior to help raise awareness of the pristine waters and landscapes they behold. Sharing stories and values of what makes our backyard to important to us and those that live with it. Ryan Busch will be live on Facebook to answer questions.
When: April 22, 2020 from 7:00-8:30 pm EST
Watch the film and engage with the makers at: https://www.fourthewater.com/
Council of Canadians Announcement
In an email from Vi Bui (Blue Communities Coordinator for the Council of Canadians) announced:
I’m writing today to bring to you some good news. A few weeks ago, Vancouver City Council voted to become the second largest Blue Community in Canada… That means that one in four residents in British Columbia live in a community that has committed to protecting water as a human right, banning bottled water, and saying no to privatization of water and wastewater services. See more at: https://canadians.org/bluecommunities
When youth carry the weight of the world
These young activists have proven to their communities and the world that there is no time like the present to make a change.
11 year-old Stella Bowles wanted to swim in the river near her home in Bridgewater, N.S. but it was contaminated. She took action. After a couple months, Bridgewater officials announced they would be funding $15.7-million to clean the rivers and remove the 600 straight pipes that were contaminating the waters.
In her final year of high school, Emma-Jane Burian from Burnaby, B.C. plans climate justice strikes on the first Friday of every month.
Known as a water protector, Makaśa Looking Horse is from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory and fights for water rights – especially against Nestlé’s bottled water permits.
Read the full story: https://www.emergemagazine.ca/when-the-youth-carry-the-weight-of-our-world/
Watch on Netflix / In the News
Canadian actor Ellen Page brings attention to the injustices and injuries caused by environmental racism in her home province, in this urgent documentary on Indigenous and African Nova Scotian women fighting to protect their communities, their land, and their futures. From the TIFF website.
The CSJ Blue Community project sponsored this documentary for a Peterborough community screening. Now you can watch it on Netflix whenever you like: https://www.netflix.com/title/81206890
In related news, this CBC article updates us about the recent closure of a mill that polluted Pictou Landing for decades. This story is featured in the above documentary There’s Something in the Water. Read the full story: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/chief-andrea-paul-boat-harbour-northern-pulp-treatment-facility-1.5532999
While not specific to water issues, the privatization of long-term health care has dire consequences for the quality of care for society’s most vulnerable. Read the full story that is also playing out across Canada during this COVID-19 virus crisis. https://ricochet.media/en/3043/privatization-the-pre-existing-condition-killing-seniors-in-long-term-care
Public Health & the Right to Clean Water – a new blog post.
The recent spread of COVID-19 across the world shows the gaps in our collective preparedness and many systemic and social inequalities. For instance, how do people wash and disinfect their hands without access to clean and affordable water? Read more: https://www.bluecommunitycsj.org/post/public-health-and-the-right-to-clean-water
Two Rivers, One Future: Reflections on water. 500 copies are coming this month and we are looking for strategic places to put them. Read more: https://www.csjcanada.org/blog/blue-community-updates
April 8, 2020
We want to wish all our collaborators and partners well, especially the event organizers. In the past weeks and in the months to come, our Blue Community project was getting ready to address audiences in:
Toronto at the WaterDocs film festival
Hay River at the Catholic Women’s League Diocesan Convention
London at the Go Wild Grow Wild Expo
Rochester at the Sisters of St. Joseph Lakes Region planning meeting
France and Switzerland as part of an international Say No To Nestlé delegation
One of the many priorities we heard from you in the Blue Community survey last year, was to create an educational poster for shared spaces like dining halls, schools, hospitals, parishes, etc. After many months of drafts and feedback from our Committee, the final product is almost ready. It features a full-colour hand-drawn image of a river impacted by two very different types of relationships. The title on the poster is: One River, Two Futures: reflections on water. Included here is just one small section of the poster.
On one side of the river we can see health, connectedness and sharing, while on the other side we see pollution, exclusion and extraction. Measuring 27 by 36 inches, this poster will catch people’s attention, give them some visual and factual information and lead audiences to our project’s website. The divided river image has text on each side to give more context and a few facts about the scarcity of freshwater and the struggle to share it. Can you think of somewhere to hang this poster and spark a reflection about water?
If so, please contact Paul Baines at or 647.831.4525. Special thanks to Jenna Kessler who illustrated the poster.
Full update at: https://www.csjcanada.org/blog/blue-community-updates
February 13, 2020
Join us in Toronto at WaterDocs, March 25-29. The Blue Community Project is a sponsor of this year's festival. Email Paul Baines for a complimentary festival pass at: firstname.lastname@example.org. At the evening screening on Saturday, March 28th, we will have an information table and will share a few words about our Blue Community work to the audience. Hope to see many of you there.
WaterDocs has partnered with Cinefest Sudbury International Film Festival to present their very first Cinema Sit-in, a one-of-a-kind cinema event in celebration of the planet that aims to expand environmental and climate literacy. See the Canadian premiere of Little Yellow Boots - a feature documentary that weaves together a story of family, personal loss, and the positive difference each of us can make in the world.
Join us in London at Go Wild, Grow Wild Green Expo, April 18th. We will have a table at this large expo to engage people about their impacts on and responsibilities to water. Let Paul know if you plan to attend and want to help staff the table. A great way to survey some of the many environmental efforts happening in London.
Join the movement in Toronto and say no to Nestlé on February 27.
Save Our Water is going to the Ontario Legislative Assembly to present its petition about corporate bottled water expansion. Join with many others for this historic day. See the itinerary and sign up (or let Paul Baines know) so that they can be ready to welcome us.
January 30, 2020
BEING SALMON, BEING HUMAN is a unique storytelling performance from Norway combining traditional tales, original music, and contemporary philosophy. Converting wild salmon into a commodity is a global fairytale that strips us of ancient and ancestral relations with the gift-giving earth. Weaving storytelling, traditional and contemporary music, this performance activates our senses, asks for a critical restoration and re-storying of what it means to be a human living within a larger body.
The performance will be followed by a discussion with the artists to localize the themes. Refreshments will be served. When: Sunday February 2nd, 2-4 pm. Doors open at 1:30, tickets held till 1:45 - show at 2pm
The CSJ Blue Community project will be a sponsor for this year’s Water Docs festival. Contact Paul for free tickets and volunteer at the information table. The festival is the centrepiece of Water Docs programming – several days of high-impact films, animated discussions and community learning, with opportunities to take action to protect water.
Visit the CSJ Blue Community project at this year’s GO Wild GROW Wild expo.
It is the largest wildest, greenest, most adventurous event series in Ontario's far South as we collectively step forward to green our future! Together with thousands of adventurers, gardeners, nature enthusiasts, families and green people, Go Wild Grow Wild is growing a green future. This collaborative movement serves as a catalyst to celebrate, inspire and spark action to protect our wildlife and create a healthy habitat.
A sewage spill at the Fenelon Falls Wastewater treatment plant spilled more than 6 million litres of partially treated waste into the Fenelon River according to the Ministry of Environment. “The Ministry takes sewage by-pass events very seriously and continues to ensure the municipality takes appropriate actions to reduce these types of events.” Bryan Armstrong, Ministry of the Environment told Kawartha 411 News. On Saturday January 11th near record rainfall overwhelmed the system resulting in the spill.
Soon, the city could embark upon a new educational campaign and do its part to reduce the annual three million tons of plastic waste tossed out by Canadians. The timing is right. The federal government’s announced last spring that it wants to ban single-use plastics as early as 2021.
ONE KILOMETRE FROM THE LAKESHORE, 680 metres below ground, a Deep Geological Repository (DGR) has been proposed by Ontario Power Generation (OPG). The DGR will be the home for 200,000m3 of low and intermediate level nuclear waste. Like so many of our Elders and Knowledge Keepers have been saying, it is time we all take responsibility (including OPG & Bruce Power) in our relationship to the water and derive our direction from there. It is time that Lake Huron takes up their rightful place in the decision-making processes as our wise Ancestor who’s connection to Mother Earth gives and sustains life for all.
Ever wonder what's lurking in your bottled water? Marketplace asked a lab to test five of the top-selling brands of bottled water in Canada, and microplastics were found in all of them.
Offering a land acknowledgment has become a symbol of reconciliation and almost standard protocol for public gatherings across Canada, particularly at universities. But recently, they’ve also been criticized as an empty gesture, prompting some to ask whether they should change. Several scholars have called for acknowledgments to be rethought. Instead of reciting a script, they encourage people to speak frankly about their own connection to the communities and places they intend to honour, and building actual relationships.
I, too, feel the urgency to keep plastics out of the oceans at all costs, but I fear that there is another story that is not being told. Disposable plastic is toxic not only to the body but also to the soul. The more we normalize short-term utility as the main criterion for evaluating the things around us, the more disconnected we become from a sense of the inherent worth of creation. The more we cultivate this habit of the heart of seeing things as disposable once they no longer serve us, the less able we are to find the beauty and value in our relationships with each other, or even the intrinsic value in ourselves once we are no longer “productive.”
Goby The Fish is a beach sculpture that is being used to bring awareness about the damage done by plastic materials to marine life. The concept of Goby was created by sculptor Janardhan Havanje and is structurally made of iron rods. Standing almost 10ft tall and 8ft wide Goby is filled with plastic waste that was collected from the beach itself.
After the province proposed the moratorium extension last month, it also asked for public feedback on the idea of the extension. The ministry received 8,703 comments.
The government said "the majority of comments supported the proposal to extend the moratorium ... Additional comments included advocating for a permanent moratorium on bottled water permits and requiring environmental assessments for all renewal applications for permits to take water for water bottling."
After nearly an inch of rainfall in Hamilton since Sunday, the City of Hamilton announced that as of 3:30 a.m. on Monday, the Woodward Wastewater Treatment Plant entered by-pass mode. “Bypasses occur in extreme wet weather, when the amount of wastewater entering the sewer system exceeds the capacity of the Woodward Wastewater Treatment Plant,” stated the City of Hamilton. “Wet weather from yesterday and today have exceeded the capacity of the treatment plant.”
The Department of the Environment stated that of the 3.4 billion cubic metres flushed per year across Canada, 374 billion gallons went untreated and did not meet the limits. The department’s researchers also predict the actual discharges are likely much higher. “These volumes do not include releases from combined sewer overflows, sanitary sewer overflows or any other discharges occurring at a point other than the final discharge point,” staff from the department wrote. The research involved looking at 1,737 sewage plants across Canada.
The Infrastructure Bank’s CEO even admits the scheme will see money flow from the pockets of ordinary citizens to big companies, telling a business magazine “users will fund the bulk of the operations and of the returns to investors through user-fees and other revenue mechanisms.”
Bowles collected and analyzed water samples, running them through a filter funnel and putting the filter on an enterococci testing card. After 36 hours in an incubator, the colonies of fecal bacteria on the card turn blue. Bowles counted the blue dots. The results revealed levels of fecal contamination above Canada’s federal standards for swimming or boating. Among those sailing the LaHave waters at the time was Bowles’ little brother.
A changing climate and growing population continue to impact our natural features. Words are not enough to express our thanks to all partners, landowners and residents who work with us to protect and improve the health and vitality of our lands and waters, and in turn, our watershed communities. Together we are securing our future.
December 18, 2019
‘We’re in a David-and-Goliath situation.’ Small Ontario town taking on Nestle to save its water
Front page of Toronto Star yesterday. Please share widely.
Consider sending a letter to the editor of Toronto Star to express your support for denying Nestle permit to take water in Centre Wellington, and to phase out their existing permits to take water in Aberfoyle and Hillsburgh. Send your contribution to Letters to the Editor via email to email@example.com; via fax to 416-869-4322; or by mail to One Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario M5E 1E6. Letters must include full name, address and all phone numbers of sender (daytime, evening and cellphone). Street names and phone numbers will not be published. Star reserves the right to edit letters, which typically run 50-150 words.
The secrets of Canada's tap water, explained
Would it surprise you to know drinking water in some Canadian cities contains unsafe levels of lead? A year-long investigation by more than 120 journalists from nine universities and 10 media organizations found some disturbing answers. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians could be consuming tap water laced with high levels of lead leaching from aging infrastructure and plumbing, a large collection of newly-released data and documents reveals.
See the 7 minute video here: https://youtu.be/l0h55NoUBmg
Over 200 classes worldwide participate in Junior Water Walkers initiative inspired by Late Josephine Mandamin
“I was actually working on a virtual Google Earth story that took kids on a virtual field trip around the five Great Lakes,” Cameron says. “So it was incredible that I could have Josephine come to speak to my students — my kids took Josephine on a virtual field trip and Josephine then told my students about her walk to bring awareness on the need to protect water. My students told Josephine they would do their part to carry on her legacy and her walk and become Junior Water Walkers.”
Project lead: Peter Cameron, a Lakehead University alumnus and Grade 5/6 teacher at St. Elizabeth’s School in Thunder Bay.
Toronto launches $3B project to improve water quality in Lake Ontario and city's waterways
"Currently, when a major storm hits our city... and dumps huge quantities of rain water onto the city… the wastewater system goes into overdrive to prevent major flooding," Mayor John Tory said Saturday.As the water rushes in, Tory said, the system pushes wastewater overflows into the rivers and into Lake Ontario when it reaches a certain threshold.
Hamilton’s Chedoke Creek sewage spill
The City of Hamilton has been ordered to come up with another report on the spill of 24 billion litres of sewage that seeped into Chedoke Creek over four years.
Hopewell school in Ottawa on way to becoming first elementary school Blue Community
Hopewell Avenue Public School in Ottawa is working towards the distinction of being the first elementary school designated as a “Blue Community.” The school, which is home to more than 900 students in Kindergarten to Grade 8, welcomed Council of Canadians Honorary Chairperson Maude Barlow and Water Campaigner Vi Bui in their gymnasium today and listened to them speak about the importance of protecting water.
November 21, 2019
These past few weeks, coordinator Paul Baines has been following water issues in the news, while also participating in a grassroots review of Ontario's bottled water permit policy.
A network of water groups have been trying to limit Nestlé's access to groundwater for years. Led by groups such as the Wellington Water Watchers, this network (which our Blue Community project is a member of) has been raising awareness about the impacts of the bottled water business and asking for a science, ethics, and rights-based approach for sustainable and just water policy.
Attached is a 2-page information sheet with a 4-page version available on our website. These past two weeks have seen major shifts in bottled water policy. Two weeks ago, water protectors were asking for public support to extend the current moratorium on new bottled water permits. One week ago, we found out that the ban would be lifted at the end of 2019, allowing for growth in the industry including a third well for Nestlé near Elora Ontario. The pressure was on to let Jeff Yurek (our Minister of Environment, Conservation, and Parks) know that there are far too many unresolved issues to grant new permits. The moratorium was needed to address water flow science, plastic pollution, the rights, consent, and jurisdiction of Indigenous nations, as well as a groundswell of public opposition. None of these issues have been addressed since the ban started 2 years ago. Then, just days ago, the Provincial government announced it would add another nine months onto the ban. See below for submitting your comments about this extension.
What happened during these two weeks? Environmental Defence launched a petition that gathered 10,000 signatures. The Council of Canadians also launched a petition that gathered 10,000 signatures. Save Our Water in Elora launched a letter writing campaign and Wellington Water Watchers held 4 high profile public events (called All Eyes on Nestlé tour) in four cities and launched a campaign organizing people to phone Minister Yurek (MPP for Elgin-Middlesex-London).
Paul Baines will be writing a blog post about a his experience at the All Eyes on Nestlé talk in Guelph last week and a follow-up full-day workshop on strategy with an international network of organizers highlighting the damage of the bottled water industry and Nestlé in particular. You can see the entire Guelph event in this video link. This tour also included stops in Toronto, Waterloo, and Hamilton. Maybe you were there? If so, share some of your thoughts and Paul will include them in his blog post. Email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
These past two weeks have also seen an explosion of stories about Canada's lead crisis in tap water and the growing amount of Trihalomethanes (THMs) in our waters, highlighting Tottenham, just north of Toronto.
This update will close with quick links to an upcoming water event in Toronto, a water award to a grade 6 student, and a comedy sketch video about politics of Land Acknoweldgements.
Lastly, our project Coordinator has been invited to speak about our Blue Communty at several upcoming events. November 27/28 at several Catholic schools in Sudbury. January 11th at the Villa St. Joseph in Cobourg. April 25th in Hayriver, Northwest Territories for the Catholic Women's League. August in Orillia for the SAIL Call to Action event.
Coming in the mail for you are new Water is Life stickers. See the attached image for a peak at the design and in the coming days watch for a package of these arriving at your house.
Canada's Tap Water Lead Crisis
Earlier this week, an investigative report by several media outlets revealed dangerously high levels of lead in tap water across Canada. This investigation took a combined effort from 120 journalists, working at nine universities and 10 media organizations across the country. They reported that millions of Canadians are exposed to this neurotoxin through the aging lead pipes that distribute water from municipal water treatment plant to households across 11 cities.
How does lead get into our drinking water? The water leaving municipal treatment plants is lead-free, but lead enters the water through the network of antiquated lead pipes. These aging pipes are part of the crumbling water and wastewater infrastructure problem that plagues municipalities across the country. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities estimates that municipalities need $50 billion to upgrade their water and wastewater infrastructure in poor or very poor conditions.
A massive Canada-wide investigative project revealed that a third of Canadian homes and schools tested had dangerously high levels of lead contamination in drinking water. While that fact itself is shocking, the reality that it took a team of reporters and scientists months to unearth it is perhaps more troubling. Why is there no central process for testing and reporting contaminants in drinking water? Why do so few people have access to this information? Where was the breakdown in government oversight? And now that we know...what do we do about it?
What are the next steps to ensure safe drinking water across Canada? First, a single health-based water quality standard and standardized monitoring protocols must be adopted. Second, it is important to identify where lead pipes are present, so consumers can be informed of the health hazard and their removal can be planned. Third, corrosion control and other strategies to avoid unnecessary water lead exposure must be implemented. Finally, monitoring results and progress of corrective actions must be transparent and shared in real-time, along with appropriate public health guidance.
Trihalomethanes (THMs) in Our Waters
For more than 15 years, politicians and health officials in the township of New Tecumseth have known the tap water in Tottenham, population 5,000, contained suspected carcinogens called Trihalomethanes (THMs), which studies have linked to pregnancy complications, spontaneous abortion, growth retardation, gastrointestinal disease, some cancers and damage to the heart, liver, kidneys and central nervous system.
In Ontario, provincial data shows that since 2016, more than 80 communities have exceeded the provincial limit of 100 ppb, including North Bay, Innisfil, Kawartha Lakes and Timmins.
KAIROS Canada is pleased to invite you to a public launch of the Mother Earth & Resource Extraction: Women Defending Land and Water Info Hub (also known as MERE Hub) on Nov. 27 at Ryerson University from 5:20 p.m. onwards.
“Canada is not a sustainable water society,” said Corinne Schuster-Wallace, co-author of the report and a professor of water-related human health at the University of Saskatchewan. “We have challenges and they are going to get worse if we don’t do something about them.”
Overall, water quality is slowly degrading. While 112 of 175 Canadian river monitors showed good or excellent water quality, the changes that have appeared show more declines than improvements. Little is known about many watersheds. Quality data only exists for 67 of 167 sub-watersheds in Canada. Of those, almost two-thirds are rated fair or poor.
Nari Hwang, a Grade 6 student at Shanty Bay Public School, won the Ernie Crossland Young Conservationist Award. Living on the north shore of Lake Simcoe's Kempenfelt Bay, Hwang has made art out of garbage and plastics to bring awareness to the amount of plastic garbage found in rivers, oceans, lakes and streams, and the negative effect these items have on the environment throughout the world. Hwang is passionate about protecting Lake Simcoe from pollutants and plastics and keeping the lake healthy. She is an avid blogger on her site, Make Clean Water Happen, where she offers tips on reducing one’s impact on the environment.
A confidential city report shows councillors have known since January that 24 billion litres of untreated sewage escaped undetected over a four-year period from a massive sewer overflow tank into Chedoke Creek, which runs along Highway 403 into Cootes Paradise. The watery sewage — enough to fill 10,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools, or an area of 12 square kilometres to a depth of two metres — seeped out of the tank because a gate had been left partially open for more than four years.
MORE ON THE BOTTLED WATER INDUSTRY
The moratorium on new and expanded permits to take water for bottling was put in place by the former Liberal government in 2017 after bottled water giant Nestle purchased a well near Guelph that the township of Centre Wellington wanted for its future drinking water supply. The Progressive Conservative government extended it last year, and with the new expiry date of Jan. 1, 2020 looming, the Tories are looking to push that back to Oct. 1, 2020.
This consultation closes at 11:59 p.m. on: December 18, 2019
More on Nestlé
In September, Nestlé inaugurated the Institute of Packaging Sciences in Lausanne, which has a goal to ensure that all of the company’s packaging will be recyclable or reusable by 2025 and that none of it will end up in landfills or floating in the Pacific. Activists say recycling is not a solution. Experience shows that even recyclable packaging usually winds up being thrown away. Poorer countries lack the necessary infrastructure. The solution is to make packaging reusable, said Graham Forbes, global project leader for Greenpeace’s plastics campaign. “If they want to remain viable in the future, they need to embrace the direction young people want to go, which is away from throwaway culture,” Mr. Forbes said.
Ultimately, the debate’s particulars lead back to a question at the heart of issue: should water be commodified and sold by private industry, or is it a basic human right? Former Nestlé chief executive and chairman Peter Brabeck labeled the latter viewpoint “extreme” and called water a “grocery product” that should “have a market value”. He later amended that, arguing 25 liters of water daily is a “human right”, but water used to fill a pool or wash a car shouldn’t be free. At its current pace, the world will run out of freshwater before oil, Brabeck said, and he suggests privatization is the answer.
October 27, 2019
There are two recent blog posts up on the CSJ Blue Community website.
I Am Water: introduce yourself with water
Many of the actions we can take to honour water as a human right, shared commons, and sacred gift are collective, yet the ways we describe who we are and where we are from can shift the broader water-agenda in profound ways.
Going International To Stop Nestlé Locally
Related to the Nestlé issue, the Wellington Water Watchers are hosting a series of events in Waterloo, Hamilton, Toronto, and Guelph from Novemember 11-14th. See the details on our website:
Also related to Nestlé, remember that Halloweeen is extra spooky and scary when supporting Nestlés profits. Much of the candy shared as treats on Halloween includes the trick Nestlé plays locallly and globally when it steals spring water in Ontario, British Columbia, California, Florida (and the list goes on) and uses child slave labour to produce its chocolate. Nestlé candy brands include, Kit Kat, Crunch, Butterfinger, Aero, Smarties, Coffee Crisp, Turtles, Rolo, Nerds, Sweetarts, Laffy Taffy, Runts, Gobstopper, Lik-M-Aid Fun Dip, Pixy Stix, Bottle Caps, Kazoozles and Gummies.
If you haven't had the chance yet to read our latest Blue Community newsletter, you can see and share it on our website. It focused on the Federal election and included two recent events featuring Maude Barlow's new book Whose Water is it Anyway: taking water protection into public hands. Guess who is on page 89? Yes, the our CSJ Blue Community, our Water is the First Medicine slogan and a few more details. Do you have access to the book? Is so, let me know what you think. If not, let me know who I help you get a copy right away. See our Fall newsletter on our website:
“One trillion litres of sewage leaked into Canadian lakes and rivers over last five years”.
Just one of the many conclusions from a recent Our Living Waters report about sewer overflows during heavy rains in Canadian cities. See the full report and community toolkit here. If you want to tackle your community's sewage overflow, get in touch.
Have you heard of the Junior Water Walker project? Inspired by the late Josephine Mandamin and a book based on her effort to protect water ("The Water Walker" by Joanne Robertson) a Thunder Bay Geography teacher (Peter Cameron) started connecting schools across North America to continue the work of protecting the sacred gift of water. See Peter's website and the map of Junior Water Schools.
Our Blue Community project has been using water justice to also reconcile with the Indigenous water protectors in our areas. We want to learn about the common grounds we share for sacred waters and we want to get to know the watershed we live in. Part of this includes exploring and creating meaningful land and water acknowledgents for where we call home. The project did a pilot workshop on this topic a few months ago that you can read about. There is also this resource by the Native Governance Center with many useful tips and reflections such as:
Start with self-reflection
Do your homework
Use appropriate language
Use past, present, and future tenses
Land acknowledgments shouldn’t be grim
See the full guide here: https://nativegov.org/a-guide-to-indigenous-land-acknowledgment/
August 26, 2019
There is a water justice Summit coming to London this fall. The Water is Life Alliance is hosting its next gathering at Western University on Saturday, September 28th. Speakers include: Maude Barlow, Lela George, Holly T. Bird, Claire McClinton, and more. Find out more on their website.
TV Ontario segment on drinking water crisis on First Nations reserves. See the video. From the TVO website: Water quality advisories are nothing new in Indigenous communities and Attawapiskat First Nation is the latest place to declare a state of emergency over water. The crisis highlights the long, rocky road still ahead for reconciliation. The Agenda welcomes Willow Fiddler, an APTN video journalist and Dawn Martin-Hill, academic director of the Indigenous Studies program at McMaster University, and Marc Miller, parliamentary secretary to the minister of crown-Indigenous relations, to discuss this issue.
Support the Water Doc Film Festival. No other film festival in Canada brings together so many water educators, activists, artists, organizations and protectors into one space to raise awareness and inspire action to protect water. See and share their fundraising page now reaching only 50% of their goal.
Any day now, Nestlé will have to submit a new application for a permit and you can bet it’s hoping to do so under the radar. But if we can make a huge stink now, we can pressure Ontario’s government to deny the permit and stop Nestlé’s greedy water grab for good. Sign and share the petition.
To learn more about water issues and to take action, visit the Blue Community website.