Autumn Peltier: Meet Canada’s First Nations ‘Water Protector’

Growing up at Wiikwemkoong First Nation on Manitolin Island, Ontario, Peltier realized the need to defend water at just eight years old. When visiting a nearby indigenous community, I found out that they are unable to drink their tap water due to contamination. This started her career as an activist.

“I think no matter our race or color, (or) how poor we are, everyone deserves clean drinking water,” she says. “You don’t have to be Aboriginal to respect[water]or raise awareness of it.”

At the age of 12, Peltier made headlines for reprimanding Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over his failure to enact clean water policies. Since then, I’ve spoken to world leaders at the UN General Assembly and the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit. She has also been nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize three times.

“You wouldn’t generally think that a child or young person would talk about world issues or political issues,” Peltier says. “That’s why it’s so much stronger – because that’s how you know something is wrong.”

Watch the video above to see how Peltier is raising the central role of water in Indigenous communities.

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