The Sisters of Mercy have long stood for change in all of the communities where their order is present.
Many times, that change is spiritual … and as that remains, they are also now a partner in securing the future of the world by being named a Blue Community supporter.
The Sisters were named as the 20th organization or group to be granted membership into this designation by the Council of Canadians, a national advocacy group, recognizing the congregation as one of 47 worldwide Blue Community members.
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.
Andrea Furlong, the interim executive director with the Council of Canadians, came home, literally to make the announcement at McAuley Convent on Waterford Bridge Road Friday afternoon
“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.’’
Furlong grew up nearby in Kilbride — attended St. Augustine’s School — run by the Sisters of Mercy and prior to joining the Council earlier this year, she worked with Waypoints as a Family Support Worker, building strengths-based, therapeutic relationships with families that promote competency and capacity building.
In addition, Furlong has nearly two decades of experience as a child and youth care worker with a dozen of those years in family work. She has more than 20 years of professional and volunteer experience with community development programs.
Furlong said the United Nations passed a resolution in 2010 for water and sanitation security and immediate steps were taken globally to secure clean water sources.
“I am heartened the Sisters are showing leadership in this project,’’ she said.
The Council of Canadians, the Blue Planet Project and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) initiated the Blue Communities Project in 2009 and Eau Secours is a partner on the Blue Communities Project in Quebec.
The Blue Communities movement has grown internationally with Paris and Bern, Switzerland, and other municipalities around the world going “blue.” Schools, religious communities and faith-based groups have also adopted principles that treat water as a common good that is shared by everyone and is the responsibility of all.
Founded in 1985, the Council of Canadians is Canada’s leading social action organization, working with progressive allies to mobilize a network of 60 chapters across the country for a variety of clauses.
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. “By spreading the message, creating positive energy and respecting water will be part of our message as a member of this movement."
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 the province, in Toronto and in the dioceses of Chiclayo and Cajamarca in Peru.