WIN! Sisters of Mercy recognized as a Blue Community for water justice work


Council of Canadians Interim Executive Director Andrea Furlong presents a Blue Community certificate to Sister Diane Smyth.

The Council of Canadians proudly welcomes the Sisters of Mercy, recognizing the religious congregation as the 47th Blue Community worldwide.

As reported in St. John’s Telegram, Andrea Furlong, the interim executive director of the Council of Canadians presented the Blue Communities designation to Sisters of Mercy representative Sister Diane Smyth during a ceremony at McAuley Convent in St. John’s last Friday.

The Blue Communities project encourages municipalities and Indigenous communities to support the idea of a water commons framework, recognizing that water is a shared resource for all, by passing resolutions that recognize water and sanitation as human rights, ban or phase out the sale of bottled water in municipal facilities and at municipal events and promote publicly financed, owned and operated water and wastewater services. Communities like the Sisters of Mercy who are resisting the corporate takeover of water and promoting the Blue Communities Project are our greatest hope for water justice.

Furlong, who grew up in St. John’s, has a special connection with the Sisters of Mercy having attended the local school. She made the trip home to present the award at McAuley Convent.

“Our mandate is allied with that of the Sisters and our shared beliefs are turned into action,’’ she said. “Water security and social justice go hand in hand. By adopting the right to water, we make a strong statement. Water is for the common good and can be shared by everyone.’’

The United Nations passed resolutions on the human rights to water and sanitation in 2010, mandating governments to provide access to safe, clean water and sanitation services.

The Blue Communities movement is growing globally with Paris and Bern, Switzerland, and other municipalities around the world going “blue.” Schools and faith-based groups like the Sisters of Mercy have also adopted principles that treat water as a common good that is shared by everyone and is the responsibility of all.

A “Blue Community” recognizes its responsibility to promote the right to water. Because water is central to human activity, it must be governed by principles that allow for reasonable use, equal distribution and responsible treatment to preserve water for nature and for future generations.

“We are glad to be part of this movement. Our activities and prosperity will be good for the entire world,’’ Sister Diane Smyth of the Sisters of Mercy said to the Telegram. “By spreading the message, creating positive energy and respecting water will be part of our message as a member of this movement."

As reported by the Telegram, the Sisters of Mercy is a congregation of religious women who live and minister according to the spirit of foundress Catherine McAuley. The first sisters came to Newfoundland from Ireland in 1842 to minister to the poor, sick, uneducated and oppressed. Today, the Sisters of Mercy mission of mercy and justice continues across Newfoundland and Labrador, in Toronto and in the dioceses of Chiclayo and Cajamarca in Peru.