Unprecedented water justice summit to challenge Nestle and other water threats

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FLINT, MICHIGAN – On September 29 and 30, 2017, residents from across Michigan, Ontario, Canada, and Indigenous communities will gather for a two-day summit to address Nestlé’s bottled water takings and the water crises in Flint, Detroit, and Indigenous communities.

Water Is Life: Strengthening the Great Lakes Water Commons features keynotes, plenaries and workshops that will challenge how bottled water turns commons into commodities and how Great Lakes peoples can shift water ownership into guardianship and a human right.  

Keynote speakers will include Claire McClinton, Flint activist and member of Democracy Defense League, and Maude Barlow, Canadian author and Honorary Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, who works internationally for the human rights to water and sanitation.

The United Nations recognized the human rights to water and sanitation more than seven years ago yet residents in Flint, Detroit and many Indigenous communities still do not have clean drinking water,” says Barlow. “Meanwhile, governments have paved the way for Nestlé and other global water corporations to access communities’ clean water and sell it for a profit.”

“The Indigenous peoples in this area of Turtle Island have had a symbiotic relationship with the Water for thousands of years. We speak the language of the Water. The Water can live without us, but we cannot live without her. N'abi Abi Bimaadziwiin (Water is Life)!” says Holly Bird, Executive Director of the Michigan Water Protectors Legal Task Force.

The conference will tackle urgent threats to public water access and safety in the Great Lakes, including a slow recovery from the lead crisis in Flint; Enbridge Energy’s aging underwater oil and gas Line 5 pipeline; affordable access to water service in Detroit and the tens of thousands who have had their water shut-off; and the aggressive moves by Nestlé to increase pumping from aquifers in Osceola County for its Ice Mountain brand, as well as its increasing efforts to extract water in Ontario at little cost.

“It is imperative that citizens of the Great Lakes Basin join together to strengthen the resistance to privatization of water and work for water equity and protection of the commons,” says Peggy Case, President of Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation.

Sponsors of the event include Corporate Accountability International, The Council of Canadians, Democracy Defense League, FLOW, Food & Water Watch, Grand Rapids Water Protectors, The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians, Great Lakes Commons, Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, The People’s Water Board, The Story of Stuff Project, Water You Fighting For, and Wellington Water Watchers.

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