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June 21, 2012

A Cure for What Ails the Great Lakes

A Canadian tour trumpets the message that the lakes belong to everyone living there

The Great Lakes of North America are in serious trouble. A patchwork of governance systems that prioritize economic gain over the health of the water have put this interntional ecosystem in grave danger. Toxic contamination, bottled water withdrawals, wetlands destruction, invasive species, pollution and water intensive energy industries, sewage run off, increased privatization of public water services and eroding infrastructure in communities surrounding the lakes are only some of the threats faced by this treasured watershed and its residents.

The Lakes urgently need people to join together to forge a new future, one that will ensure the Lakes will thrive for generations to come. That is why a host of groups and a wide spectrum of individuals from across the bioregion have come together to build a movement for a Great Lakes Commons –-a movement to shift the priorities that govern the Great Lakes from current market economy values to values based on commons and public trust principles.

To raise awareness, invite community engagement and spark action towards creating a Great Lakes Commons, the Council of Canadians organized an eight-stop “Great Lakes Need Great Friends” tour that kicked-off May 15 in Toronto, travelled through Hamilton, Thunder Bay, Kingston, Sarnia, Township of Tiny, Owen Sound and concluded in London, Ontario, May 30. The tour featured water activists, including bestselling author and UN Water Advisor Maude Barlow, who president of the Council of Canadians and Chair of Food and Water Watch. Indigenous First Nations leaders and representative of local and regional environmental groups joined the tour at each stop. The tour will continue on the U.S. side of the lakes next spring, sponsored by On The Commons, Food and Water Watch, The Detroit People’s Water Board and FLOW for Water . Watch this website for details.

The Canadian tour was a huge success and received widespread media coverage, including the CBC and the Hamilton Spectator .

Faye Brown, Program Director at On the Commons, has been working on Native environmental and human rights issues since 1980. She worked with the Black Hills Alliance, founded the Leonard Peltier Support Group/Indian Justice Network and was senior staff at Honor the Earth, a national Native environmental organization