Imagine waking up tomorrow morning, going to your kitchen turning on the faucet to fill your glass with clear delicious thirst-quenching water only to discover what is coming out of your tap is discoloured, foul-smelling and contaminated. The only way for you to have access to clean drinking water is to fill a pot, bring it to a full boil for 1 minute and then let it cool down. Think of all the ways we use water: brushing our teeth, bathing/showering, washing/preparing meals, drinking, making ice, washing dishes etc…Imagine how constrained our routines would be if we continuously had to boil our water because it was contaminated and unsafe to consume. Unfortunately, this is not a hypothetical situation for many people around the world. Here in Canada, it is a nightmarish reality for many of our indigenous people living on First Nation reserves. But thanks to the tireless work and advocacy of Autumn Peltier a teenager from the Anishinabek Nation near Manitoulin Island in Ontario, many of the active long-term water advisories across Canada have been resolved and access to clean drinking water has been returned.
Autumn started to learn about the importance of and the sacredness of freshwater from her mother and great-aunt who was known as a “water walker” because of her many years working as the Anishinabek Nation Chief Water Commissioner. At the age of 8 Autumn attended a ceremony on a reserve and was shocked and saddened to learn that the community was on a boil water advisory for over 10 years. She knew then that she needed to do something to cause a change as she knew that everyone should have access to clean drinking water.
In 2016, at the age of 12 she spoke to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and let him know that she was unhappy with how he and his government have handled the issue of clean drinking water for First Nations. The Prime Minister promised her he would protect the water. Since then, the government has improved the quality of drinking water and according to government of Canada’s website has eliminated 131 long-term boil water advisories on First Nation communities across Canada. However, there are still 34 water advisories in effect and the government did not achieve their goal of eliminating all advisories by March of 2021.
Autumn continues to speak publicly about the importance of protecting water and the right to every human on the planet to have access to clean drinking water. She addressed the United Nations at the age of 14 in 2018, and again at 15 in 2019. She continues to walk in her great-aunt’s footsteps as a “water walker” as she was appointed the youngest Anishinabek Chief Water Commissioner at 15 years old in 2019 after the passing of her beloved great-aunt.
Her activism has been recognized around the world being nominated for the Children’s Peace Prize in 2017, 2018, 2019, and in 2021 she was awarded the 2021 RevolutionHer Community Vision Youth Award.
We, at IDareU2bee.com are inspired and moved by her courage and poise as she fulfils on her calling of healing the planet and insuring access to life giving clean drinking water worldwide.