Assistant InsideOut Editor
The startling documentary Blue Gold was screened on the McMaster campus on March 5 as an attempt to spark the interest of our student body on world water crises.
The first official event of McMaster’s Water Awareness Week (WAW) was followed by a discussion period by representatives of a number of student-run organizations, including Hamilton Students for Social Justice, Global Citizenship Planning Committee, Paws@Mac and the McMaster Water Initiative.
The documentary Blue Gold illustrated the horrible reality of the globe’s corrupt water industries. Water, a basic human necessity, is stripped away from those who need it most, privatized by large corporations and re-distributed at crippling prices.
Globally, Canada is a privileged country, yet along with privilege and a bountiful supply of fresh water we have become blind to the hardships others must endure just to have safe drinking water.
Justine Schultes and her fellow committee members have rallied together in order to bring water awareness to Mac students and initiate a number of green movements, such as wise water use, the banning of plastic bottles on campus and in the public sphere, steps to recycling smart and the reorganization of Hamilton as a Blue Community. McMaster’s WAW offers a series of seminars, lectures and presentations in order to educate students on the global, national and provincial water discrepancies.
“It is vitally important that we as the next generation recognize the issues surrounding access to freshwater worldwide and how here in Canada we may be impacted by the strain on the world’s fresh water resources,” says Schultes.
Although the water crisis falls into the hands of everyone, it’s the younger and future generations who will have to pay the consequences if this issue is not treated as priority.
“We need to recognize water as a human right,” states Schultes. Aside from a human’s vital need for water, our agricultural and fragile ecosystems also require uncontaminated water in order survive and ultimately sustain our lifestyle. If we can recognize water as a basic human need, then, ideally, it would be impossible to ignore such a fundamental human right.
The WAW event on March 6 was the “Blue Community Workshop,” held open to Mac students who wished to participate in an informal discussion on the water systems in the Hamilton area.
Various issues were raised, such as the need for greater stringencies to be placed on our recycling system. Students often do not take the time to properly recycle, which includes rinsing and drying any recyclable material thrown into the blue bin. Often, this ignorance leads to contamination of the entire unit of recyclables, meaning that most of it is thrown out as waste.
Another issue raised in the WAW event was the need for communication between the Canadian government and our citizens. Schultes and her committee facilitate discussion around the need for transparency in our governmental affairs, especially when dealing with our water supply.
“A lot of things are being done to our water systems without our knowledge,” says Schultes. For example, the government has been discussing the draining of Canadian lakes to facilitate corporate use, and the CETA trade bill in the works will allow the European Union to utilize our fresh water supply as they wish. Schultes suggests that we need to implement a national policy and have the same water legislations for all provinces.
Water Awareness week will conclude on Saturday, March 10 with a discussion panel at the Global Citizenship Conference.
Prior to this date, several events will be held as a way to bring the global and national water crises to the forefront of student politics. If interested, students can check out dates and times via the Facebook page of Water Awareness Week 2012, McMaster University.