Anglicans joined faith communities across Canada in commemorating World Water Day March 22 with calls for the protection of water “as a sacred gift, not a commodity” and for world leaders to ensure that all people have access to safe, clean water. There were 60 events held in rural and urban areas across the country – “water walks,” film showings, concerts, workshops – all designed to raise awareness among Canadians about how, as Sue Moxley, suffragan bishop of Nova Scotia and P.E.I., put it, “we are on the threshold of a global water crisis.” “Through marches and public events held in cities across the country, the organizations are demanding that the federal government ensure public control of water resources both in Canada and around the world,” said Bishop Moxley, at a news conference at the Cathedral of All Saints. “So why are we doing this? Canada, after all, has 20 per cent of the world’s fresh water supply. But…we certainly have nothing to be smug about.” She said that right in Nova Scotia “the number of threats to our water supply” have been increasing. “From water privatization to strip-mining and quarry-building, from the proliferation of bottled water companies to the encroachment on our lakes, rivers and coastal waters, Nova Scotia has many serious challenges ahead of it.” If current trends continue around the world, “two thirds of the people on the planet will not have access to clean water by the year 2025,” she said.
(opens in a new window, requires free Adobe Flash plug-in)
The Nova Scotia event was organized by the ecumenical justice group, Kairos, (of which the Anglican Church of Canada is a member) and the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, along with The Council of Canadians, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Nova Scotia Environmental Network and the Sierra Club. In Toronto, Kairos and the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace held a “water walk” from the Church of the Holy Trinity (Anglican) to City Hall. A “ritual” for World Water Day was performed, which highlighted the struggles of developing countries, whose water supplies are increasingly being privatized and who lack access to potable water. According to a Kairos fact sheet, at least one person dies of diseases caused by contaminated water every 14 seconds; about 34,000 others die worldwide each day due to water-related diseases such as cholera and infant diarrhea. There were also speeches, among them by Toronto city councillor Joe Mihevic, who read a proclamation signed by Mayor David Miller that declared March 22 as “Water Day” in Toronto. “The City of Toronto recognizes that water is a gift that connects all life, that access to clean water is a basic human right and that fresh water is a public trust and a collective responsibility,” the proclamation read. In British Columbia, more than 60 people marched from the Old School House through the downtown of Qualicum Beach, to the fountain in front of the Town Hall. Participants performed a ritual for World Water day, sang songs, gave out handbills about the Water for Life campaign, and requested onlookers to sign Life Before Profit cards, urging Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to protect and preserve natural sources of water and to support publicly or co-operatively controlled water services. Organized by Kairos, the march also drew representatives from Students for Peace and Earthwatch. Other similar World Water Day events were also held around the world. More coverage will be available in the May issue of Anglican Journal.