Autumn Peltier speaks to UN about clean water’s importance

The Indigenous environmental teen activist spoke on Saturday, the day after massive climate marches across Canada
autumn Peltier Many communities across Canada have to boil their water before drinking it. Activist Autumn Peltier spoke out against this at the UN Saturday. (© Amelia Martin -

Autumn Peltier is a 15-year-old from the Wiikwemkoong First Nation on Manitoulin Island in northern Ontario. At just 14, she was appointed the Anishinabek chief water commissioner. That's an amazing achievement. And since that time, she has used her position to speak out about the rights of everyone to clean water.

This past Saturday, this led to her passionately taking her message directly to the United Nations headquarters in New York City.

A week of action. A year of change?

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The scene in Montreal during Friday's Climate Strike. (Getty Embed)

As we've been reporting, the last week was a busy one worldwide for environmental issues.

There was the UN Climate Summit on Monday, September 23, which brought together Swedish activist Greta Thunberg and hundreds of world leaders and representatives. In fact, all of last week was dedicated to action on the questions of climate. It was called the Global Climate Strike. On Friday, September 27, everything peaked in a series of marches across Canada and the world.

Those marches were inspirational and dominated by youth. There were university students, high school students, and even grade school students. They came out in Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, Halifax, and hundreds of cities and towns. Their message? Young people are going to fight for their futures and demand change.

And the day after the march, Autumn Peltier proved that this fight is ongoing.

Clean water is a right

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Many Indigenous nations across North America do not have access to clean water, even though they are near traditional waterways. (Getty Embed)

Saturday, September 28 was the Global Landscapes Forum at the UN. This group was formed by both the UN and the World Bank (a global financial organization) to address sustainable land use. This means making sure that how we farm, build, and use resources is done while thinking about the future.

As a water protector, Autumn talked about how her ancestors taught her about the spirit of water, and its importance to life. She talked about how her elders never used plastics or fridges or technology. They lived in harmony with the water around them.

And she talked about how communities like hers — as well as towns in America like Flint, Michigan — live under dangerous conditions. They often cannot just turn on the tap and drink what comes out. Instead, they must boil their water first or they risk becoming very sick.

Her speech is a really important one — you can watch this inspiring 15-year-old deliver it below!

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