In section: SNJM Life

Water is a Human Right

Together in building a more just world

The 2006 General Chapter challenged us to look at the serious environmental issues on our planet.  The management of water is, without a doubt, one of the international issues at stake in the XX1st century.

The Sisters and Associates of our Congregation have been urged to become fully involved in the educational stage of the proposed corporate stand to safeguard water.  Together we are committed, not only for ourselves but for future generations.  200 Sisters and Associates gathered in St. Lambert for the launching of the process in Quebec.  The EARTH CHARTER states that we have a responsibility toward one another.  The SNJM Justice and Peace Network continues to be attentive to the poor who are exploited, especially, since 2006, when our Congregation took a corporate stand against human trafficking.   In reference to the Charter, we maintain that just as “Women and children are not for sale”, nor is water for sale.

Considering the urgency to preserve water as a human right and a public good, we will once again use the See, Judge, Act process, such will be our double investment of time and energy.

Some concrete examples that will highlight our reflection:

  • due to the bottled-water-profit-making industry in some countries, the wells in  many villages have dried up.
  • closer to home, the diverting of our water to arid land in the south, will cause  the level of the Saint Lawrence River to drop and consequently be detrimental to the seaway.
  • in Columbia, the management of the public water utility, taken over by a multinational corporation, forces families to buy drinking water at a cost equivalent to expenditures for food for 10 days…

And am I aware of the alarming scarcity, toxicity and waste of water?

How can we move toward action while respecting and preserving water

  • so that this resource remains pollution-free and accessible to all of our sisters and brothers
  • so that the beauty of God’s creation be preserved for all?

Our group process, which will be taking place locally, will lead us toward taking a corporate stand to safeguard water.


                             "We are destroying the beauty of the earth"


Water is a Human Right and Public Good

The Sisters and Associates of the Congregation of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary affirm that:

  • Water is a sacred gift that connects all life.
  • Access to clean water is a basic human right.
  • The value of the earth’s freshwater to the common good takes priority over any possible commercial value.
  • Freshwater is a shared legacy, a public trust and a collective responsibility.
Therefore, we support actions and policies that:
  1. Ensure universal access to suffi cient, affordable, safe water for all people, especially the most vulnerable.
  2. Protect freshwater as a sustainable, renewable resource.
  3. Implement the objectives of the UN Millennium Goals on water.
We oppose actions and policies that:
  1. Endanger the world’s supply of freshwater.
  2. Deprive humans and other species access to adequate, safe water essential for life.
  3. Favor the privatization of water as a commodity to be bought and sold for profit when in reality it is a heritage we all hold in common.


After a time of reflection, dialogue and prayer, the whole Congregation voted on the corporate stand.

On November 6, 2008, the Congregational Leadership Team announced that the members of the Congregation and our Associates have very strongly endorsed the corporate stand: Water is a Human Right and Public Good. For over 150 years the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary have been guided by the charism of Marie Rose Durocher to respond to critical needs of our time with actions based upon gospel values. 

The CLT also urges us “to take personal, regional and corporate ACTIONS that are consistent with our stand, especially to take personal and collective responsibility for safeguarding the world’s freshwater and ensuring its equitable distribution, to speak out against its exploitation for economic profit, and “to halve the proportion of people who are unable to reach or afford safe drinking water and who do not have access to basic sanitation.” (UN International Decade for Action – Water for Life)

Let us continue “to provide support for a healthy future for the generations after us.”   (SNJM Chapter Acts 2006)

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