BY JOY STRUTHERS
Around 300 citizens protested in front of Guelph City Hall Sept. 26 before the council meeting regarding the Nestle water deal in Aberfoyle.
Coun. James Gordon was to introduce a motion that would allow the community to speak about the deal at a future meeting, before any decisions would be made, and many wanted to show their support.
People of all ages from all different backgrounds gathered by the doors, under the covered area in front of the building in Market Square. They listened to emotional speeches, poetry, songs and prayers.
They cheered, clapped and chanted.
“Water for people, not for bottles,” they said.
Many held signs targeting Nestle and declaring their belief that water should not be for profit by corporations, but used freely by citizens.
“It’s rare to see such a great turnout,” said activist and poverty task-force worker Tina Brophey. “I came to help raise awareness and to support James Gordon’s motion. It’s amazing to see the community so strong, fighting for our water and for future generations’ water.”
Many people brought their children to the rally, although some just ran around the water feature and splashing fountains. It was a little cool on the overcast day, with a light sprinkling of rain, but no one seemed to mind.
Anne Marshal brought her son Simon, even though it was before dinnertime, but she promised him they would get something special afterwards.
“I felt strongly about bringing my son,” she said. “It’s really his future and that of the community at stake. We need to ensure that our children’s children don’t have to keep fighting this fight perpetually. We can’t let corporate greed and political short-sightedness lead us into environmental disaster.”
Amelia Meister, one of the organizers, drank water proudly from her reused maple syrup bottle.
“Water for people, not for bottles,” she called out into the microphone.
Local sound healer Gary Diggins recited, sang and led people around the splash pad in a march while playing a pocket trumpet, accompanied by drums and other instruments.
Gordon became emotional when he addressed the protesters. He said it had been a long time since so many people had gathered for a cause like this.
“I’ve stood in this spot and yelled into a microphone for probably 20 years,” he said.
Coun. Phil Allt said he planned to second Gordon’s motion and also encouraged people to join them.
Although citizens were not allowed to speak or make any noise at the Sept. 26 council meeting, they were allowed to gather in support.
The crowd advanced quietly and streamed steadily through the automatic doors past the security inside.
“I want people to know that water is a human right and that we are fundamentally against the commodification and privatization of water in this province. That is it,” said Meister.