Canada has the third largest renewable supply of freshwater in the world—about seven percent of it, which is spread across lakes, rivers, aquifers, and glaciers. It’s also vital to Lush's operations.
Fresh ideas for fresh water
Climate change continues to increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, which wash more pollutants into our waterways and lakes. Pollution, agricultural, industrial and residential development have destroyed almost three-quarters of southern Ontario’s historic wetlands, while natural resource projects in British Columbia—clear cutting, pipelines, mining, etc.—contribute to increased droughts, floods and forest fires.
In a country where everyone has the right to clean drinking water, more than 100 First Nations communities go without. Drinking water advisories continue to be a persistent injustice.
In 2017, we partnered with experts in the freshwater movement to identify four areas of focus to direct Charity Pot grants: capacity building, advocacy and campaigns, First Nations water rights, and water monitoring—all areas in which we granted $1 million to projects that will have a positive, long-term impact on freshwater health. With nearly 50 percent of our Canadian retail shops, and manufacturing and distribution facilities located in British Columbia and Ontario, caring for these waterways was a great place to start.
With the urgency of water issues affecting all communities from unsafe drinking water to droughts and floods, it’s clear that water protection requires many different approaches. Solutions must involve and recognize Indigenous rights, laws, Traditional Knowledge, and local communities.
Groups in this area received Charity Pot funding to continue work focused on connecting and uniting grassroots movements, sharing skills, collaborating, and ensuring communities are engaged and involved in local decision-making.
For more than 19 years, Watersheds Canada has been working on freshwater issues. Charity Pot grants helped support the restoration of healthy, sustainable water quality within Muskrat Lake Watershed that's been plagued by agriculture run-offs. They’ve restored the shoreline, planted 15,000 native shrubs and trees, monitored water quality and created an educational outreach model for 1,500 community stewards.
BC Freshwater Initiative
The BC Freshwater Initiative, a project of MakeWay, uses Charity Pot funding to support the BC Water Funders Collaborative to better understand and identify opportunities for collaboration and strategic alignment of resources. This funding will also support ongoing learning around decolonizing philanthropy, an economic analysis of BC's freshwater sector, as well as the development of communications tools to be used by the broader freshwater community.
Advocacy and campaigns
Charity Pot funding in this area focuses on local, grassroots organizations that influence political will to implement protections and amplify community solutions.
Save Our Water
In Ontario, Save Our Water exists to stop Nestle Waters Canada from securing a permit to extract water from the Middlebrook Well. As of December 8, 2020, Bill 213 enacted municipal veto legislation that stops bottling companies from applying for a new permit to extract large volumes of water from any municipality without that community’s consent.
Defend the Heart of the Fraser
Defend the Heart of the Fraser campaigns for the protection of Herrling and Carey Islands from industrial agriculture, threatening salmon, sturgeon and other species. More than 11 hectares of floodplain habitat have been secured for protection by the Nature Trust of BC. Leq’a:mel Nation identified Nicomen Slough as a waterway of interest with opportunities that could make it healthy enough to support salmon all year round. The waterway has benefited from long-term stewardship by Leq’a:mel Nation and others.
First Nations water rights
To support First Nations water rights, this area of focus delivers funding to groups that develop water law, policy and decision-making protocols. They also work to create co-governance between Indigenous and non-Indigenous governments.
Fort Nelson First Nations
An Indigenous community-based water monitoring project in the Lower Mackenzie watershed will focus on traditional, cultural and ecological values. Activities include maintaining existing monitoring stations, collecting data, training, quality control, and reporting results. This will help Fort Nelson First Nations regain a central role in territorial water governance through treaty rights and responsibilities.
Water Rangers sent 30 test kits to 12 Indigenous communities, giving them the tools needed to test water quality now and in the future. They also provided a safe and exciting learning opportunity for many Indigenous youth while respecting Covid-19 restrictions. To protect data sovereignty, a concern for many, Water Rangers ensured that the groups could keep detailed, private logs of the tests they did in more than 30 bodies of water.
Community water monitoring
Groups that receive funding in this area work to collect, analyze and apply water data, increasing accessibility. They also work to strengthen water literacy and interweave Western science with Indigenous Place-based Knowledge.
Lush funding supports Living Lakes Canada’s move towards long-term water monitoring outcomes including data collection and capacity building to inform climate change adaptation modelling for Indigenous and non-Indigenous decision makers. Data collected will allow communities to make more informed decisions when they understand impacts to their changing watershed ecosystems and understand the need to build climate resiliency into water allocation decisions.
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper safeguards recreational water quality and identifies impacts of sewage pollution in Toronto through community hubs and increased innovative engagement. Their in-house labs expanded year-round E.coli monitoring and documentation to roughly 45 sites in seven areas, as well as water literacy workshops for 100 people and sample collecting training for 250 volunteers.
As a business, we’ll continue to support the momentum of all efforts of organizations doing this essential work. Our goal is to widen our lens to include even more parts of Canada and the U.S. working in partnership to protect water, our most precious resource.
Wherever you are in the world, take action to hold Prime Minister Trudeau accountable for his 2015 election promise to end all drinking water advisories on First Nations reserves.