Mission: Accessible clean water for all
The What: Peltier, a member of the Wiikwemkoong First Nation, became a formidable water-rights activist after encountering a sign about toxic water at a ceremony when she was just eight years old. At age twelve, the activist fearlessly confronted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, securing his promise to “protect the water.”
Now eighteen, Peltier continues to advocate for clean water access, particularly for Indigenous communities, as Chief Water Commissioner for the Aniishnabek Nation. (The position was previously held by her great-aunt, Josephine Mandamin, who died in 2019.) Her unwavering commitment inspires change and amplifies the importance of preserving and ensuring water accessibility for all.
The Impact: In her role as Chief Water Commissioner, Peltier represents 39 First Nations in Ontario and is responsible for relaying community concerns to the Anishinabek Council. On September 29, 2022, the eve of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada, the House of Commons referred to Peltier’s petition, “Indigenous Deserve CLEAN Drinking Water,” asking for clean water solutions. At last count, the petition had 112,000 signatures and is growing. Along with her 126,000+ instagram followers, her voice will continue to be heard.
A View from the Top:
- Speaker at the United Nations (at age 13)
- Honored by the Assembly of First Nations
- World Water Week participant
- Received the Sovereign Medal of Exceptional Volunteerism from the Governor-General of Canada and Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
- Featured speaker at The World Economic Forum
- Shortlisted for the International Children’s Peace Prize (four times)
- Featured in Maclean’s Top 50 Canadian Power List (2021)
- An Honorary Doctorate Inductee from Royal Roads University (2022)
- Received the Daniel G Hill Award from Ontario Human Rights Commission as well as the Emerging Canadian Leader Award from Public Policy Forum.
Fun Fact: The Water Walker is a documentary film that follows the teenaged Anishinaabe water activist as she travels to the UN to preserve the future of Indigenous communities (available on Crave).
Sound Advice: “Keep going, don’t look back, and if you have an idea, just do it; no one is going to wait for you or tell you what to do.”
What’s Next? Peltier believes that the response to the COVID-19 pandemic globally has paved a way for a response to the issue of the drinking water crisis for First Nations in Canada and is hopeful that change is possible.
The Call to Action: Peltier asks that everyone go to change.org and sign the petition. https://www.change.org/p/government-of-canada-indigenous-deserve-clean-drinking-water
Quote: “I believe no matter what our race or colour is, how rich or poor we are, everyone deserves clean drinking water. Water is the lifeblood of Mother Earth.”
For More Information go to: https://www.cnn.com/2022/08/09/americas/autumn-peltier-water-protector-first-nations-canada-spc/index.html
To See the other 2024 Change Maker Award Winner click on their name below:
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