Gretta Thunberg, the amazing sixteen year old activist from Sweden, is in the forefront of much of today’s news. Rightly so, she is a great force and gives me hope! However, there are other young people who are tirelessly fighting to save our planet who don’t seem to get as much press. I stumbled on this young woman in a post from my alma mater, Goddard College.
Young Autumn Peltier has been raised with traditional ways and has been learning to be a community leader for most of her life. Peltier lives on the Unceded Anishinawbe Territory on Manitoulin Island in northern Ontario. Her mother Stephanie was raised with traditional teachings that were passed on by her father and her auntie Josephine Mandamin who was a great teacher and inspiration. Stephanie has been mentoring her daughters to learn and be proud of their Way of life. She says she has taught her children since she carried them in her womb. They are Anishinaabe Kwe and members of the Three Fires Midewin Lodge. As a family they pray and advocate for our water and share teachings on the Sacredness of Nibi (water) for our future generations and our First Nation Communities with hopes to empower others to Stand up for our Water
Young Autumn began her advocacy on behalf of water at the age of eight and was inspired by her great aunt, Josephine, the same auntie who greatly inspired her mother. The turning point for her advocacy was attending a ceremony at the Serpent River Reservation and saw a warning sign against drinking the water. Autumn learned that not all people in Canada have access to clean drinking water. She greatly moved became even more involved as an activist. Her voice is now heard far and wide as she speaks out for clean water.
She is recognized as a Water Ambassador/Water Protector representing her community as a Role Model for young First Nations youth and women. I would add, for all of us! She is a very popular speaker and has been invited to do public programs in her Anishinaabe Language and at various engagements across the country.
Autumn gained national as well as international notice when at a meeting of the Assembly of First Nations she presented Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, with a copper water pot and although she want not allowed to deliver her prepared speech she was able to confront Trudeau on his record on water protection and his support for pipeline making quite an impact. This action inspired the Assembly of First Nations to create the Niabi (water) Odacidae fund. She has attended international events such as the Children's Climate Conference in Sweden.
Autumn was nominated for the International Children's Peace Prize in 2017, 2018 and 2019, and was named Top 30 Under 30 in North America for Environmental Education Making a Difference in 2019. In April, 2019 she was named the chief water commissioner by the Anishinabek Nation. When Autumn accepted the Role as “Chief Water Commissioner” her mother, Stephanie said, “The work her auntie was doing for our Waters will keep flowing like water, the work will continue one rain drop at a time.”