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Toronto Talks: by the river and the bar

Updated: Apr 25, 2023

On October 29th, Blue Communities Coordinator Paul Baines came to Toronto for two separate events. The first stop was by the Don River at the O'Connor Street residence and the second stop was at the Duke of York pub.

With the support of Dr. Deb Denard, we filled the afternoon with an overview of what the Blue Communities mission is, why it's important, and what actions are possible for a Bluer world. Deb started the second half with a group smudge (a smoke cleanse through the burning of sage). She talked about women's sacred responsibility for water and introduced some Anishinaabe water teachings. We passed a copper pail of water around our circle of about 40 people (Sisters, Staff, and Associates) and each person silently gave their respect and gratitude to this water. Then we had small paper cups filled to receive a sample of this blessed water. We drank it all in -- all the good wishes.

Deb and Paul led the group in 4 rounds of the Nibi (water) Song:

Ne-be Gee Zah- gay- e- goo
Gee Me-gwetch -wayn ne- me -- goo
Gee Zah Wayn ne- me- goo

(English translation: Water, we love you. We thank you. We respect you.)

We opened the circle for questions and a discussion on how these issues of pollution, colonization, spirit, and commercialism are happening locally and globally with current and historical examples. (photos below by Ibrahim Ng)

Just a few hours later, Paul was in a downtown pub for the monthly Theology on Tap event, organized by Kataryna Ryba at Faith Connections (a young adult project through the Sisters of St. Joseph, Fontbonne Ministry).

It was a full house with about 60 people socializing with food and drink -- ready to hear about the Blue Communities project. Paul braided some stories and examples to illustrate the 4 types of struggle when it comes to water injustice (see graphic below). He touched upon Detroit, Flint, First Nations, the provincial permit to take water rules, the International Joint Commission, the sacred water walkers, stewardship of creation, the risks of privatization, protecting the common good, our (dis)connection from the watershed, rights and responsibilities, how our election cycles don't match the water cycle, and how our political boundaries don't match our ecological ones. For a good overview of the issues, visit our Blue Resources page.

After a 20 minute talk, participants talked in their small groups with 5 reflective discussion questions that were prepared by Paul and Kataryna. Then things got really exciting with more specific examples, updates, and invitations for learning and action. It was a high-energy event with honest and meaningful conversation, nurtured by a monthly community of smart and compassionate people. (photos by Kataryna)

If you attended this event, what was your experience like? What actions can be taken from this night? Visit our Action page for regular updates and events for this project.

By Paul Baines
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