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Unwrapping the Gift of Water

Updated: Apr 25, 2023

A friend of mine shared a short video with me the other day with a simple message. A man wakes up in disbelief and wrapped up in Christmas paper. He unwraps himself just enough to move and speak and then proceeds to unwrap his wife and then his kids who’ve stumbled into the bedroom wrapped up like holiday mummies.

He’s now fully awake, exuberant and most of all thankful for all these kinship gifts in his life. Next comes the unwrapping of a light switch, a faucet, food, a briefcase for work, a car in the driveway, and finally, a warm cup of coffee.

“This Christmas, may you be grateful for all the gifts around you” marks the ending of the video and this left me thinking about the Federation’s Blue Community pledge I’ve been working on these past 8 months.

While we can’t wrap the Great Lakes up in Christmas paper, we can start to feel an immense amount of gratitude for all they provide. Sisters, Staff, and Associates across the Federation are blessed with clean, dependable, and affordable water for all their needs.

It’s not a perfect system in many ways since there are those in the watershed without healthy tap water, there are toxic teams of pollutants inherited from the past and saturating the present, and there is a drawdown of political commitment and oversight to protect the waters. There are still 75 Drinking Water Advisories for First Nations in Ontario, there are still 37 Areas of Concern in the Great Lakes with usually high amounts of water pollutants, and we just saw the Environmental Commissioner’s Office shut down in Ontario, while threats to water quality need more (not less) watchdog research and advocacy.

Water is often talked about as a resource, a source of life, sacred, and sometimes as a gift. But what is the best way to reciprocate a gift? Mainly, it should be to thank the giver and cherish the gift as a signal of how much you cherish the relationship between you and the giver – between you and the Creator, God. The good news is that this reciprocation is alive and well across the Federation and with Blue Community plans being made into and beyond 2019.

I’m of the opinion that our water-care is more present than we think. By naming and encouraging more of this care, I think we can motivate a wider circle of water protectors.

Through my work with Great Lakes Commons, we developed this Compass of Care graphic to give credit and commitment to the various ways we care for water as a sacred gift.


Our first section promotes Gratitude and comes in many forms. This can be through prayer, making offerings, and generally celebrating your thankfulness for water.

The second section shows how learning about water also gives back. When we care about someone, we want to learn about them – what makes them tick and to understand their experience of the world. So Seeking Knowledge is not just about learning, but offering our thoughtful attention towards what we value.

The third section wants the gift to be shared. When we truly appreciate a good song, meal, joke, or moment, we want others to join in. When we make the experience of the gift more communal, our pleasure is multiplied by the pleasure it brings others.

The last section of this compass commits to health. When we care about someone, we want to take care of them when sick and better yet, take precautions to help them avoid illness and pain. When we work to improve water quality, we are celebrating yet another dimension of our care.

So during this season of gift giving and receiving, let’s remember the gift of water and how we can reciprocate our care through a diverse set of actions.

By Paul Baines, Blue Communities Coordinator for the CSJ.

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