News Updates sent across the Federation
June 8, 2021
Here is another summary of news and invitations to protect water as a human right, shared commons, and sacred gift.
The work lately has been busy connecting people and groups about the Line 5 pipeline that passes through the heart of the Great Lakes. There have been several meetings with water NGOs in Canada as well as Ojibwe tribes in Michigan. There is an online event June 24-27, more details to come soon including a presentation by Paul Baines.
There have also been key developments for the bottled water industry. Nestlé has sold its North American operations to private equity firms who are calling themselves Blue Triton. The public comment period on this application ends June 22nd. See below for more.
We have been learning more about Junction Creek watershed to prepare for a sacred water walk along its path. COVID has delayed the start time of this 4-day walk, but supporters are cleaning the riverbanks and learning about the ecological and colonial history of the area. The walk ends at the Spanish Residential school where there will be a private ceremony for those impacted by this school. The walk is led by Anishinaabe women and the Junction Creek Stewardship Council and a small CSJ Blue Community group in Sudbury has been meeting to find ways to support this water and healing work. Learn more here.
You can always see all the Updates & Invites sent out on our website.
Get to know a watershed: Junction Creek
The creek is fed by five tributaries, some of which carried mining effluent at one time. It widens into Mud and Simon Lakes in Lively. Eventually, at McCharles Lake, Junction Creek flows into the Vermilion River. From there, its waters meet the Spanish River and then, the North Channel.
Ontario announced new Permit To Take Water permits.
Giving municipalities more say on whether water bottling companies can use groundwater in their areas.
Establishing priorities on how water should be shared among water users when there are competing demands for water.
Making water taking data available to the public to increase transparency of how Ontario manages water resources.
However, Blue Triton (who now own the old Nestlé plant in Aberfoyle Ontario) wants a permit to take over 1 million liters of water everyday for at least 10 years, even as droughts are becoming more common. First Nations do not consent to this water taking. The Aberfoyle plant produces millions of plastic water bottles everyday (only half are recycled). And water is increasingly financialized as Wall Street and investors get to decide who has access to water and who does not.
Makaśa Looking Horse: Why I took on Nestlé
I was determined that my community be completely aware of what Nestlé was doing on our land. I hosted a run from the school in the middle of Ohsweken to the Medicine House by the river. We ran to raise awareness and to carry the message that we as a community oppose Nestlé taking our water.
It was important to raise awareness because we, the Indigenous people of Six Nations, should always be at the table when the health of our water is at stake. We should have a say about the permits and our own water is governed. The reality is that we are rarely included in these conversations. Read her full article.
'Informed and unwilling': opposition to high-level nuclear waste burial grows
A new organization called "We the Nuclear Free North" held a very informative webinar on May 10 to address concerns about the proposed burial of high-level nuclear waste in northwestern Ontario. High-level nuclear waste is intensely radioactive, spent nuclear fuel rods taken mainly from nuclear power plants.
The nuclear waste consortium wants to transport some 57,000 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel rods from 18 nuclear reactors in Ontario and one in New Brunswick to the disposal site. As the webinar panelists explained, that would mean "two or three trucks per day" making the long-distance drive to the site "every day for the next 40 years." Read the full article.
Water Personhood Effort for the Ottawa River
Embarking on the journey to grant Kichi Sibi legal personhood represents a powerful river trip like no other. It would transform how we think about water and river life, compelling us to reconcile western and Indigenous legal frameworks, advance the rights of Indigenous Peoples, and set the course for a new relationship with the river towards respect and stewardship. Read the full article.
City committee examines plans to bury nuclear waste upstream
The City of Ottawa wants the company that runs the Chalk River nuclear waste facility to do more to protect the Ottawa River, and not accept nuclear waste from outside Ontario if it goes ahead and builds a large disposal site.
But councillors on the city committee responsible for water and environmental issues stopped short of outright opposing two Canadian Nuclear Laboratories projects: creating a mound to dispose of radioactive waste less than one kilometre from the river, and sealing the country's first reactor near Rolphton, Ont., in specialized grout. Read the full article.
Laudato Si’ Action Platform
The Laudato Si’ Action Platform is a program and associated website that equips Catholic institutions, communities, and families to implement Laudato Si’. It is sponsored by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and is developed with a ground-up approach in partnership with diverse Catholic people and institutions. It offers guidance and a space for all to share ideas, questions, challenges, and inspiration, since “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” (LS 141) Read more on the website.
Line 5 Oil & Gas Pipeline
Buried under the lakes and cutting through the center of the Great Lakes, Line 5 is a 67 year old pipeline that mostly brings oil to Ontario and Quebec. The Governor of Michigan gave Enbridge 6 months to shut down after decades of breached safety conditions. As of May 13th, Enbridge is trespassing because it has no permit to run Line 5 on the lake beds of Huron and Michigan. Read more here. Canadian climate and water organizations have been slow to offer critiques of this pipeline because it operates in Wisconsin and Michigan. But the word is getting out and a growing number of Canadians are learning about all the risks of the pipeline and lack of government leadership to build greener energy infrastructure.
Feds stand firm on toxic ruling as Big Plastic threatens lawsuit
The Responsible Plastic Use Coalition (RPUC), a coalition of 27 petrochemical and plastic packaging manufacturers, on Wednesday announced plans to sue the Liberal government over its decision last week to list plastic as toxic under Canada's primary environmental law — after months of lobbying against the government's approach — opening the door to a suite of planned regulations to end the plastic pollution problem. Read the full article.
Jesuit Forum: Listening to Indigenous Voices launch video
The launch event for the new dialogue guide, "Listening to Indigenous Voices" with special guests Sylvia McAdam and Lee Maracle. From the brochure: The resource is a journey through some of the most important Indigenous voices of our generation. In it, you will learn how to engage in dialogue, growth and change - all the while enacting justice and relationships from the visions stories, adn words of Indigenous artists and knowledge keepers. Visit the website to order a copy. Watch the event recording.
Save Our Water Community Zoom Meeting & Update, April 22 2021
It had been more than two years since Save Our Water's last public update and there was a lot to talk about! It was a great opportunity to hear from the Township - including Centre Wellington's Mayor Kelly Linton - and to find out what we at Save Our Water have been up to. This meeting also included an update on recent developments in related Provincial legislation, and what's needed to continue protecting the Middlebrook well and our Centre Wellington's water. Watch the event recording.
Lords of Water documentary
Featuring interviews with investors, environmental and business experts, and those affected by water scarcity, it examines the struggle between those who wish to treat water as raw material and those who wish to preserve it as a resource open to all. From the Al Jazeera site. Watch it here.
Before you state a land acknowledgement, mean it
A land acknowledgement must come from your heart, not just be read off a piece of paper; when you state it, mean it. Ask yourself: how does this land acknowledgement represent my connection to this place? And now that I know about the mistreatment of Indigenous Peoples, what does this land acknowledgement propel me to do?
It is up to you to do your research before stating a land acknowledgement, as it is important to understand the words you are saying, their proper pronunciation and what they mean. After doing your research, you can write your own authentic land acknowledgement. This can be a powerful way to connect with your audience and give a meaningful voice to Indigenous issues. Read the full article.
April 7, 2021
Thanks to everyone who joined our World Water Day event: honouring the value of water. We heard 16 different voices, each with a unique expression on this year’s theme. We had songs, prayers, poems, paintings, photos, collages, presentations, video statements, and even a story of 12 women blessing Ramsey Lake and the water treatment plant and workers in Sudbury.
In case you missed it or want to see parts of it again, it’s now on our Youtube page.
Water is the First Medicine -- an event with WaterAid Canada
On Wednesday, April 21st from 10 - 11:30 am the CSJ Blue Community project will be in conversation with Julie Truelove (Senior Policy Analyst with WaterAid Canada) and WaterAid partners such Mercy Masoo (Country Director, WaterAid Malawi). Join us to learn about the role of water as the front line of defense and the foundation for public health. This will be a webinar combining short presentations with time for your comments, questions and feedback. Yes, WaterAid Canada would like our feedback on their global strategies, while also aware that parts of this work are needed in Canada because of water insecurity. More information to come, but you can RSVP for this special event here.
At one time red pine old-growth forests spanned across North America. Today, only 1.2% of that old-growth forest remain. Located in Ontario’s mining capital - Sudbury - Wolf Lake stands as a rich but fragile ecological gem. In 1999 the government of Ontario committed to protect Wolf Lake however mining claims and leases surrounding the lake prevented its inclusion into the Chiniguchi Waterway Provincial Park. Journey with adventurers, scientists, historians and environmental activists seeking to protect Wolf Lake. Take Action.
Ending long-term drinking water advisories
Federal government vows again to end boil water advisories but offers no new target date. Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller recommitted the federal government Wednesday to its goal of lifting all long-term drinking water advisories on First Nations reserves — but didn't offer a timeline for completing the work. With 58 active advisories remaining in 38 communities, the Liberals will miss a self-imposed deadline this month for lifting all long-term advisories.
Chief Eric Redhead of Shamattawa First Nation in northern Manitoba, which has been under a long-term drinking water advisory since December 2019, said the website won't help. "It's just a website to justify the delay for the rest of Canadians and for themselves," Redhead said. From this CBC article.
On this same issue, we have to be critical of the government’s strategy and effort. According to this well informed speech by MP Charlie Angus, the Federal government is repeatedly ignoring the best ways to end the water advisories and mismanaging the crisis. He notes that even the information on the new website doesn’t match the realities of what’s happening on the ground.
For instance, when CSJ Blue Community coordinator Paul Baines decided to see the status for Curve Lake First Nation, the website says the project is completed. Which is confusing since Paul has read that parts of Curve lake are still without safe tap water and the First Nation is taking the Federal government to court over the lack of tap water. Lastly, those in London would be interested to know that Oneida of the Thames First Nation is only at the Feasibility stage of their new water system. There is still the Design, Construction Starting, Construction Finished, and Lift Recommended stages to come with no date set for completion. It will likely take years.
Nestlés’ Troubled Waters -- a Virtual Rally on March 18
Nestlé, the world’s largest corporate water bottler, is planning to sell its North American bulk bottled water business, which operates the brands Arrowhead, Poland Spring, Zephyrhills, Pure Life, Ice Mountain and others, to private equity firm One Rock Capital, according to news reports. This sale, for an estimated $4 billion, would be a massive private transfer of ‘water wealth,’ an especially ominous development in light of Wall Street’s accelerating interest in ‘water futures’ trading.
This past fall, our coalition of national advocacy groups and communities impacted by Nestlé’s water extraction and bottling demanded that several particularly troubled and controversial Nestlé Waters’ sites be returned to public ownership before any sale. From the Story of Stuff website. One of these groups is Wellington Water Watchers in Guelph Ontario. You can watch the Rally here which features many voices including Maude Barlow, Mike Balkwill, and Makaśa Looking Horse.
A years-long moratorium on water taking permits in the province ended Thursday, one day after the closing of the sale of Nestle Water North America, which includes the plant in nearby Aberfoyle, was announced. The moratorium on permits to take groundwater and produce water bottling was put in place by the previous Liberal government in 2016 and extended a number of times since by the current Conservative government. It was ended by the provincial government effective April 1. Read the full article by clicking the title link.
ROME – Pope Francis on Sunday asked for universal access to potable water, a resource taken for granted by many, but which over two billion people around the world lack access to. “Too many brothers and sisters, so very many brothers and sisters have access to too little and perhaps polluted water,” Francis said. “It’s necessary to assure potable water and hygienic services to all.” His comments came ahead of Monday’s United Nations’ sponsored World Water Day, that highlights the importance of fresh water. This year’s “Valuing water.” Read the full article by clicking the title link.
London is now part of the worldwide Blue Community movement. London City Council voted almost unanimously in favour of becoming a Blue Community on March 23, 2021.
This is a victory for water protection and social justice. London City staff and London City Council have supported requests from the Council of Canadians and our allies to pass the resolutions needed to become a Blue Community. Now Londoners know even more certainly that their needs for water are primary and placed before profit-driven interests. Instead, water itself is valued as essential for life, as a common good, cared for and distributed with equality and preservation in mind. Read the full article by clicking the title link.
The CSJ Blue Community project wrote an endorsement letter for this initiative, which was shared with City of London Councillors.
February 16, 2021
March 22, World Water Day
We are hosting an online event to share our expressions about this year’s global theme for World Water Day: the value of water. More details to come for this afternoon event but to prepare, we are looking for your prayers, pictures, stories, poems, symbols or songs on the theme of “what does water mean to you?”
The 90 minute format on the 22nd will feature some voices from the Federation Ecology Committee, the Blue Community Steering Committee and some of our Indigenous collaborators. Please contact Paul Baines before March 17th if you would like to share a creative expression for this World Water Day event.
February 18th, 7pm
Canada, the Churches, & Bill C-15
The event will include a conversation on why The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples legislation is important to Canadian churches. A panel of experts will describe Bill C-15, the legislation the government of Canada is introducing to implement UNDRIP, and explore the support and opposition to the Bill. For more information and to RSVP, visit: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/canada-the-churches-bill-c-15-le-canada-les-eglises-et-le-projet-de-tickets-140299007107
March 17th, 7:30 pm
Port Hope: a case study in radioactive risk
This third webinar in the Protect Our Waterways series will look at Port Hope, the legacy of radioactive wastes the community is burdened with, and community concerns, particularly in light of a recent proposal to relax environmental standards that many in the community feel were already too lax by changing the radioactive waste cleanup criteria. RSVP here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_UUS5CkPwQeiZ-65-SXxPTw
We have been meeting with WaterAid Canada to collaborate on a special online event for you on World Health Day. Save the date to learn about how the global south is adopting ‘Water as the First Medicine’ when working for water justice and public health.
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:
Take the Water is Life Pledge
This year I pledge to make a practice of honouring the earth’s waters. I will bring attention to the ongoing water crisis and global wars fueled by water extraction. My actions will honor the courageous actions of the earth’s water protectors.
New blog post:
Water for All: a conversation with Water First (video recording included)
On January 26, 2021 the Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph invited John Millar (Founder and Executive Director of Water First) into a conversation with our Blue Community project and he took many questions from the audience.
Plastic Recycling: that’s not a thing. GreenPeace responds to Canada’s plastics reduction strategy
The mountains of plastic pollution Canadian companies generate every year shows no signs of abating, even with recent federal measures designed to tackle the problem. Canada introduces roughly 4.67 million tonnes of plastic into the domestic market each year. 1 Of this, over 3.2 million tonnes end up as waste. 2 Roughly 86 percent of this waste is dumped in landfills.
The federal government's proposed approach to plastic waste is built on the myth of recycling. The approach hurts communities and leaves the public holding the bag for continued industry failures, while missing opportunities to "build back better" from covid-19 by making a truly circular economy part of the promised green and equitable recovery from the pandemic. Read the full report:
Road Salts Turning Freshwater into Saltwater
Every year in Canada, we use 7 million tonnes (up from 5 million a few years ago) of road salt on our streets and highways. That’s nearly 200kg of salt per Canadian! And that doesn’t even include the salt we apply to sidewalks, private parking lots, and our own driveways. And 17 years ago, in 2001, Environment Canada considered declaring road salt a toxic substance because of its impacts on ecosystems. But instead, they decided to create a voluntary code of practice for municipalities and others in 2004. From Environmental Defence.
This winter season marks the first rollout of a new system for snow and ice control in Peterborough that aims to reduce salt usage by 1,500 to 2,000 tonnes per year (or 20 to 30 percent) when fully implemented. From Peterborough Currents.
Ex-Governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder charged with Flint water poisoning
“I literally could have cried,” said Hawk, sitting in her car after learning Tuesday that former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and others in his administration were expected to be charged in a water crisis blamed with causing learning disabilities in scores of children and other medical problems among adults in the majority Black city about 60 miles (95 kilometers) northwest of Detroit. Full story: https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/01/ap-flint-families-welcome-water-crisis-charges-seek-healing
Feeding the Blooms - Great Lakes Now
Lake Erie’s annual toxic algal blooms are fed by runoff from agricultural land in the Maumee River watershed. Some farmers have taken steps to reduce the amount of runoff from their fields. But certain regulations only apply to the biggest farms, so large-scale dairy and animal operations continue to threaten the waters.
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.