Left: The Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto participating in a water ritual as part of the Blue Communities initiative. Right: Leah Watkiss, Program Director for the Ministry for Social Justice, Peace, and Care of Earth at The Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto gives the Sisters more information on the project. Photos courtesy of The Sisters of St. Joseph Toronto

Sisters of St. Joseph join global push to create Blue planet

  • December 15, 2017

Blue is the new green. At least that is the case for the Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Canada.

On Dec. 10, the Sisters became the first religious community in Canada to become a designated Blue Community. A global movement started by The Council of Canadians and the Canadian Union for Public Employees, the Blue Community’s purpose is twofold: to recognize water as a human right for all and to be conscientious of sustainable water usage.

For their first order of business, the Sisters plan to phase out bottled water at all their events.

“We want to educate others about water so it does not become an exclusive commodity,” said Sr. Thérèse Meunier, Congregational Leader for the Sisters of St. Joseph in Toronto.

“By being a part of the global Blue Community, we are upholding the human right to safe, clean water,” said Leah Watkiss, Program Director of the Ministry of Social Justice, Peace and Care of the Earth for the Sisters of St. Joseph. “We are ensuring water justice, which means everyone has equal access.”

The Sisters were inspired to join the movement after Pope Francis addressed the issue of access to clean drinking water in his encyclical, Laudato Si’. Pope Francis calls it a “central issue in today’s world and a problem that affects everyone.”

There are 844 million people on the planet who lack a basic drinking water service, according to the World Health Organization. In Canada, there are currently close to 75 Indigenous communities under drinking water advisories.

The Sisters plan to implement changes in their own local communities, from Toronto to Sault Ste. Marie.

“We plan to incorporate easy but practical ways to conserve water into our houses and programs across Ontario,” said Meunier.

Meunier says every little bit counts, from little reminders to turn off the tap while brushing your teeth to being conscious of the length of your showers.

The Sisters are also working on a video outlining what it means to be a Blue Community.

“We want everyone to get involved,” said Meunier. “Water is a human right for all.”

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