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article imageGuelph Fresh Water Jamboree celebrates water resources Special

By Stephanie Dearing     Aug 7, 2010 in Entertainment
Guelph - The Fresh Water Jamboree was envisioned to be entertainment with a message about water by offering up an afternoon and evening of music for anyone interested in dropping by to Guelph, Ontario.
This year marked the third annual event which originated with Chris Williams. The 24 year old musician who says he's been involved in the environmental movement for the past ten years, has big ambitions for the Jamboree. He said he began the Fresh Water Jamboree to "... bring everybody together and network the artistic community with everybody else." Williams said the funds raised from the Jamboree "... are to help all the thirsty people in the world. But our number one concern would be the 4,000 children that die of thirst every day."
However, when asked where the funds raised from the event are specifically donated, Williams said no funds had been given to any organization as yet. "All the donations ... we're trying to break even this year and next year, what our plan is, to raise money to put towards that exact thing ... the children that are dying of thirst, you know. To raise enough money to change that, you know. And to also clean up our water around here and try to not let everybody take it before its gone."
The information displays set up at the Fresh Water Jamboree by the City of Guelph and the Wellington...
The information displays set up at the Fresh Water Jamboree by the City of Guelph and the Wellington Water Watchers.
Williams and his friends had advertised the event as a non-profit event that raises awareness about fresh water locally and nationally. None of the promotional materials mentions raising funds towards saving the lives of thirsty children in developing nations. However, Williams did raise an important issue, even if he wasn't particularly clear about the issues. Water offers up a particularly gruesome factoid: "Every 20 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease."
Advertised as a free family-friendly event, Williams and his friends raised money by asking for donations and selling coffee donated by sponsor, Planet Bean. They also sold tickets to a few fair-styled games for youngsters, who received prizes for their prowess at the skill challenges. On hand were people from Guelph's Ethiopian community, selling traditional food and coffee. Sponsor Nala Designs provided face painting in return for a donation.
Additional sponsorship was provided by the Wellington Water Watchers, who were in attendance, as was co-sponsor, the City of Guelph. The City was promoting a game about water geared for children. Zehrs also contributed to the event.
The main focus of the 11-hour event was the music. Williams had recruited at least 16 musicians to provide free entertainment, not counting himself. Two presentations on water were also part of the stage schedule; one presentation was given by the City, the other by Wellington Water Watchers.
A view of the bandshell at Riverside Park  with performers entertaining people who came out for the ...
A view of the bandshell at Riverside Park, with performers entertaining people who came out for the free Fresh Water Jamboree.
Unfortunately, there were no programs available, not even a poster put up somewhere where people could see who was playing when. In fact, the organizers forgot to provide themselves with a booth to promote their efforts and give people information about their endeavours. Williams said he organizes the Fresh Water Jamboree through the auspices of his non-profit organization, Be The Artist.
Williams hoped to draw in 600 or 700 people this year, but early attendance at the event was disappointing, in spite of the good weather. Last year, a day of rain kept people away. Keeping accurate track in the park for an event covering eleven hours would be a difficult task for anyone, but Williams wasn't keeping track.
While the focus on water was limited, Williams was happy to talk about the issues. He said people should go home with the message that "Fresh water is a human right. Everybody deserves to have fresh water. Fresh water is so important to our environment, to keeping everything stable and everything together, it's just a very key component. If we can look after it in the right way we can look after ourselves and our environment."
Keena (baby with blue hair) and mother  Jazz  enjoying the music at the Fresh Water Jamboree.
Keena (baby with blue hair) and mother, Jazz, enjoying the music at the Fresh Water Jamboree.
In July, the United Nations' General Assembly passed a resolution that declares access to clean water and sanitation is a human right. Canada refused to vote for the resolution. When asked how he felt about Canada's position on the resolution, Williams said "I have a big problem with ... I really believe that its not only a human right, but it is, I believe something like 87% of us, or something like that - we are water. Not only that, but our environment is water. Our whole world, it all is based on the water system... Everything is interconnected.
It is embarrassing, to tell you the truth. I believe that there are other interests when it comes to our water involved in this whole thing. I don't think that people's interests when it comes to water are being taken into consideration. I think there's some sort of political economic thing going on that's separate and I feel that I should be involved in the decision that my government is making."
The Ethiopian coffee tent set up at the Fresh Water Jamboree.
The Ethiopian coffee tent set up at the Fresh Water Jamboree.
Asked about the future of water in Canada, Williams said "That's why I'm doing what I'm doing, okay. The way that people are heading, it looks not as hopeful. I plan to make a difference, to try to make things look more hopeful. It's all about hope, for sure."
Spokeswoman for the Wellington Water Watchers, Arlene, said it was shameful that Canada did not sign the UN resolution on access to water.
Arlene said it was important to conserve water, and she spoke about the group's latest campaign, called Message in a Bottle, which intends to provide every elementary school student in Wellington County a reusable stainless steel drinking bottle, while raising the awareness of the students about water.
Arlene at the Wellington Water Watcher s booth at the Fresh Water Jamboree.
Arlene at the Wellington Water Watcher's booth at the Fresh Water Jamboree.
When asked if Canadians could ever find themselves facing a future where citizens might be unable to access drinking water, Arlene said "... Maude Barlow makes it sound like she doesn't feel it's that far off into the future where the corporatization of water could lead to things like that."
Arlene said that Canadians concerned about preventing the corporatization of water are pressuring the government to create a national water plan, hoping to avoid future fights between citizens wanting access to water and companies wanting to sell that water.
When asked what message Arlene thought people should consider, she said "Water is precious and sacred ... we definitely feel that water is a birthright to have access to clean healthy drinking water, and the only way that's going to happen is if, first of all, if all of us honour it for what it is and second to treat it as we should and hold it as sacred, then we just won't let others get their hands on it ... It's not just for us and our generation, there are many other generations to come and many other living creatures that require water."
Guelph author and poet Jerry Prager  who recently published Legends of the Morgeti  a book about org...
Guelph author and poet Jerry Prager, who recently published Legends of the Morgeti, a book about organized crime in Guelph, pretends to be dowsing for water at the Fresh Water Jamboree.
More about Guelph, Fresh water jamboree, Music festival, Chris williams
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