Protecting the planet’s water as a Blue Community

Just ahead of Earth Day, the University of St. Michael’s College achieved the designation of “Blue Community,” committing to protect water as a human right and public good. St. Michael’s joins Regis College and the Sisters of St. Joseph to adopt a seven commitment “Blue Community Pledge.”

Speaking at the Blue Communities launch event, St. Mike’s president David Sylvester noted that becoming a Blue Community is “in keeping with the university’s long-standing commitment to social justice,” as outlined in the St. Mike’s 180 strategic plan, and in direct response to Laudato si’ and Fratelli Tutti’s call to establish new relationships with the environment and with all humanity.

Maude Barlow congratulates the University of St. Michael's College on becoming a Blue Community.

Water justice activist and author Maude Barlow applauded the decision, thanking both St. Mike’s and Regis for being part of what she likes to call “ushering in the age of nature.”

St. Michael’s is joining a growing group of universities in Canada to protect what Pedro Aroyo, UN special rapporteur on the human rights to clean water and sanitation, calls the “blue soul of water.” 

As a Blue Community, St. Mike’s pledges to help protect the planet’s water and promote the human rights to water and sanitation by upholding the following principals:

(L-R) John Cartwright (Council of Canadians Board Chair,) David Sylvester (University of St. Michael's College President,) Maude Barlow, Evangeline Cowie, (SMCSU President,) Gordon Rixon, S.J. (Regis College President,) and Mark Calzavara (Council of Canadians Water Campaigner.)
  1. Recognize water and sanitation as human rights
  2. Educate the community about the human rights to water and sanitation
  3. Ban the sale of bottled water on campus and at sponsored events
  4. Educate community members and partners to avoid using bottled water where potable water exists
  5. Uphold a “water commons” framework in which water is a shared responsibility of all
  6. Encourage the responsible use of tap water through capital improvements and programming
  7. Urge community members and other post-secondary institutions to advocate for sustainable water policies worldwide, giving particular attention to the rights of marginalized groups, communities, and Individuals.

Barlow was joined by other members of the Council of Canadians including Board Chair John Cartwright, Executive Director Ravi Josh and Water Campaigner Mark Calzavara to formally recognize the designation.

To learn more about Blue Communities, please visit