Words Matter: Autumn Peltier - Water Warrior
By Sejal Mohan Autumn Peltier, from the Wikwemikong First Nation, is the chief water commissioner in her community, as of April 2019. Keeping her activism in mind, it is hard to believe she celebrated her 15th birthday last September. Peltier’s inspiration for starting activism at such a young age is her aunt and former chief water commissioner, Josephine Mandamin. In addition, she was taught about the sacredness of water from a young age through her culture. Her first step into the realm of political activism was in the Children’s Climate Conference in Sweden in 2015. Her first impression, however, was made in 2016 when she confronted the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, about his water policies at the Assembly of First Nations. In 2017, Peltier has received numerous recognitions of her activism, including the Canadian Living Me to We Award Youth in Action under 12, Ontario Junior Citizens Award in the newspaper, and the Sovereign Medal of Exceptional Volunteerism granted by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and Governor General of Canada. In 2018, she was given the Ottawa Riverkeeper Award. She was also nominated for the second time for the International Children's Peace Prize, and was nominated for a third time in 2019. In 2019, she was given the Water Warrior Award at Toronto’s Water Docs Film Festival, Young Leader Award with the Ontario Municipal Social Services Association Award, and featured in Top 30 under 30 in North America for Environmental Education. Her most recent feat was addressing the Manhattan UN conference on September 28th, the day after Canada’s Global Climate Strike, to emphasize the importance of clean water and the issue of numerous indigenous populations not having access to clean water. In her speech, she advocated the reduced usage of plastics and mentioned her wish to add elders and young activists into decisions concerning the land and water in the environment. "I've said it once, and I'll say it again: we can't eat money or drink oil." Graphic By: Teju Calambakkam Edited By: Jessica Li, Shaili Singh Sources: Press, The Canadian. “Indigenous Water Activist Autumn Peltier Speaks at UN Sustainability Forum.” National Post, 28 Sept. 2019, https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/indigenous-water-activist-autumn-peltier-speaks-at-un-sustainability-forum. “'We Can't Eat Money or Drink Oil,' Autumn Peltier Tells UN | CBC News.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 28 Sept. 2019, https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/canadian-indigenous-water-activist-autumn-peltier-addresses-un-on-clean-water-1.5301559.