On October 14, 2015 the Okanagan Nation Alliance held a forum for people from surrounding communities to discuss the future of water in the region. This remarkable event convened Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, academics, local governments, farmers, chiefs, youth and concerned citizens.
The gathering had particular relevance after 90 First Nations and their allies — including the David Suzuki Foundation — published a letter to federal party leaders on water rights. The call to action was immediately picked up by the Globe and Mail, which released a strong editorial urging government action to end the water crisis in Indigenous communities. Over 100 Indigenous communities in Canada don’t have safe water for drinking, cooking or bathing — some for more than 20 years.
Two local young people reading the Okanagan Nation Water Declaration, first in their native language, then in English, was a personal forum highlight. The words expressed a powerful and deeply held understanding of our interdependence with water.
Here are five tips inspired by the declaration that can help guide your relationship with water:
1. Acknowledge past, present and future. Scientists look for water on other planets as a sign of life. Here on Earth, we must remember how precious water is. Water affirms our connection with all other living things. It simultaneously links us with our ancestors and with generations to come.
“Water bonds us to our ancestry, our descendants and our land…”
2. Give thanks. What’s the first thing you do in the morning? Go to the bathroom? Wash your face? Brush your teeth? Make coffee? So many of our daily rituals require water. The simple act of expressing gratitude can raise our consciousness about water usage, lead to water conservation and highlight the invaluable presence this precious element has in our lives.
“Water must be treated with reverence and respect…”
3. Observe the hydrologic cycle. More than 70 per cent of Earth’s surface is water. Water is in us and all around us. Play in the rain. Watch the clouds. Sit by a babbling brook. Listen to the sea’s waves. Drink the liquid that makes up 60 per cent of our bodies. What we do to water, we do to ourselves.
“Water comes in many forms and all are needed for the health of land and for the animals…”
4. Tap into your inner strength and suppleness. Water is both powerful and soft. Becoming a more democratic, healthy, sustainable and resilient country requires fortitude, patience and unprecedented levels of collaboration. We can learn from water’s ways to simultaneously embrace conviction and gentleness in our dealings with people (see our post on how to speak from the heart).
“Our sacred water teaches us that we have great strength to transform the highest mountain while being gentle, soft and flexible…”
5. Dare to dream. As David Suzuki said when we launched Blue Dot back in September, 2014: “Things are only impossible until they are not.” One year ago, we couldn’t have imagined nearing the end of 2015 with almost 100 municipal declarations for environmental rights and 19,500 Blue Dot volunteers. What can we make happen in the year ahead if we believe anything is possible?
“Water will always find a way around obstructions, under, over and through. It teaches us anything is possible…”
Remember, water is life. Join the Blue Dot movement today to ensure all Canadians have fresh air, clean water, safe food and a say in decisions that affect their health and well-being.