15-Year-Old Indigenous Canadian Water Activist Participates In UN Climate Action Summit: "We Can't Eat Money Or Drink Oil"!

28 Sep 2019 by Staff - Water Diplomat
NEW YORK NY, United States

For the second time in two years, 15-year-old Autumn Peltier, Anishinabek Nation (Canada) chief water commissioner went to the United Nations to participate in the UN Climate Action Summit.

Peltier joined fellow teenager Greta Thunberg at the forefront of an environmental youth movement that stresses the urgency of the climate crisis.

Peltier told hundreds of international guests at UN headquarters September 28 "I've said it once, and I'll say it again, we can't eat money, or drink oil".

Peltier spoke at the Global Landscapes Forum, a platform on sustainable land use founded by UN Environment and the World Bank that's dedicated to achieving development and climate goals.

"All across these lands, we know somewhere were someone can't drink the water. Why so many, and why have they gone without for so long?"

She said she's been taught traditional knowledge from an early age about the sacredness of water, and that more should learn these lessons. (Airdrietoday)

"Maybe we need to have more elders and youth together sitting at the decision table when people make decisions about our lands and waters."

Canada's Globe and Mail receently reported: “There are 56 First Nations communities across Canada under long-term boil-water advisories, the longest of which have lasted nearly 25 years. Worse, some types of contaminations are resistant to being boiled. Others don’t even need to be consumed to be toxic, such as trihalomethanes (THMs), which recently forced Northern Ontario First Nations community Attawapiskat to declare a state of emergency. THMs are linked to an elevated risk of cancer. They can be absorbed through the skin, making showering and even washing your hands a danger.”

In addition to an emphasis on water, Ms Peltier has a voice representing Indigenous populations. “I will be emphasizing on our direct connection to the land and water. I will share an Indigenous perspective how our people are caretakers of the land and waters and how everything is connected and depending on clean water.” As reported in the Anishinabek News, Peltier is a citizen of Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory in northern Ontario. “I will share knowledge of why we as Anishinaabe people are so protective of our waters and that we come from a place where we are surrounded by the freshest water in the world and it’s at risk of being contaminated.”

Further, Ms Peltier won’t accept the status quo. “There are people living in third-world conditions in our first-world country,” she says. “It’s insane. Canada is wealthy. There shouldn’t be places that can’t drink their water.”

Ms Peltier has recently been nominated for the 2019 International Children’s Peace Prize by the David Suzuki Foundation for her environmentalism.

“Nothing can live without water, if we don’t act now there will come a time when we will be fighting for those last barrels of water, once that’s gone we can’t eat or drink money or oil. Then what will you do?”

The Youth Climate Action Summit provides a platform for young leaders to showcase their solutions and meaningfully engage with decision-makers. The Summit brings together young activists, innovators, entrepreneurs, and change-makers who are committed to addressing the global climate emergency.