Journey to Justice

Water imageInteresting article by Joe Gunn who asks "Is water ‘sacred,’ or is it ‘a human right’?” in the Prairie Messenger, June 21, 2017

Elder Josephine Mandamin, an Anishinabek initiator of the “Mother Earth Walks,” takes the responsibility to care for water very, very seriously. Now moving about slowly herself, with the aid of a walker, she once lead Water Walks around the five Great Lakes, and even covered the length of the St. Lawrence River on foot. She believes that women, as life-givers, have a special responsibility to protect water as a sacred gift from the Creator, as the “lifeblood of Mother Earth.”

Mandamin was a keynote speaker before 60 religious women, men and their associates at 2017’s National Meeting of the Canadian Religious Conference’s members responsible for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation. The Toronto event, taking place over three days in June, struggled to answer why, every 3.5 seconds, a child dies of water-borne disease, why 2 billion people around the world must drink dirty water, why 2.5 billion have inadequate sanitation, and why, here in Canada, 73 per cent of First Nations communities have water systems at medium to high risk and where, in 2015, 1,838 communities lived under boil water advisories.

This month also marked the second anniversary of the release of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Sí. Francis mentions water 47 times in that document, concluding that there is a human right to safe drinking water. So should Christians consider water as “sacred,” a “human right,” or something more? More importantly, how should we act in a world where water is being ruthlessly polluted, incessantly wasted, and increasing sold as a commodity available only to those who can afford to pay?

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