Backing the Tap: The Movement is growing and Flowing in 2012!

Momentum and movement for bottled water free campuses continues to grow this year, with the number of universities and colleges officially banning the bottle climbing to 23, joined by 86 municipalities and 8 school boards across the country! The 3rd Annual Bottled Water Free Day was celebrated on March 15th, with 29 campuses participating with activities and actions of various kinds.

At Polytechnique and McGill Universities in Montreal, students tabled with interactive activities. Students at McGill were invited to take a tap vs. bottle taste test and then spin the wheel to win a prize, including some beautiful BPA-free stainless steel bottles. At Polytechnique, information was distributed, such as how much material and energy is required to produce a single plastic

bottle. Both campuses screened the documentary `Tapped`. At Concordia, connections were made between the privatization of water and education, coinciding with the massive student demonstrations against tuition hikes currently proposed in Quebec. People were invited to share a message in a bottle about what water means to them, and the bottles were strong up around campus. Up at Laval in Quebec City, the campus sustainability group Univert launched their awesome new contest, Decoration des Fontaines. Meanwhile at Bishop’s, fountains were actually decorated and celebrated for the simple but essential things they are.

Out in Edmonton earlier in March, students at the University of Alberta protested against the awarding of an honorary Ph. D. to the CEO of Nestle Corporation, where shady ten million dollar ties between an international water institute supposedly focused on sustainable development (ha ha), a new water initiative at U of A, and Nestle, which is a major proponent of water privatization, were revealed. On March 22, much loved superstar activist and renowned water advocate Maude Barlowe provided some insight on the arrangement.

In Halifax, students in the Halifax Regional School Board rallied to ban the bottle throughout the district, inspired by an amazing slam poem from grade 12 student Grace Hamilton-Burge.  Over at UPEI in Charlottetown, CUPE local 1870 joined with the city, Oxfam PEI, and several campus groups to promote the day of action. The documentary `Flow`was screened on World Water Day. At St. Mary’s University in Halifax they created and shared a wonderful Blue Map with facts and figures relating to water and the location of fountains on campus.

Out in BC, Camosun Students for Environmental Awareness rocked out their campus in Victoria with an awesome array of activities promoting a bottled-free planet, while at Langara College in Vancouver students were invited to do the tap test taste and inform themselves about the bottled debate. Up in Prince George, students at University of Northern British Columbia were invited to learn more and signt the petition to end the sale of bottled water next year when their beverage contract comes to an end. Vancouver Community College announced their intention to go Bottled Water Free on World Water Day (March 22), led by the student association. And The City of Port Moody voted to go bottled water free, joined by Grande Prairie in Saskatchewan.

In Toronto, students at the U of T organized a ‘Celebration of Water’, screening a series of short documentaries about water issues and holding a discussion afterwords. High school students at David Suzuki Public School in Markham signed pledges to back the tap the week before the day, as it fell during their March Break.

Nationally, CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi polled listeners on their preference for the tap or the bottle, with the majority coming down on the side of the sink! Looks like we may be winning 🙂

The whole team at SYC is excited by the momentum, energy and diversity of student organizers working to Back the Tap on campuses across the country and is working to secure funding so that we can better support the movement. If you would like to be part of future initiatives such as training and networking events, drop Cameron a line at campaigns@syc-cjs.org, visit us at http://backthetap.ca and check us out on Facebook and Twitter!

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