WATCH — Teen activist Autumn Peltier demands clean water for all

Published 2020-11-20 03:00

Some communities still boiling water before drinking

You know something’s wrong when a child speaks up.

That’s how Autumn Peltier, a 16-year-old from Wiikwemkoong First Nation in Ontario, framed her fight for clean drinking water in Canada’s Indigenous communities.

The teen, who’s originally from Manitoulin Island but currently living in Ottawa, told CBC Kids News she’d rather spend her free time doing normal kid stuff.

Instead, she’s making speeches on the international stage about the fact that some Canadians don’t have access to clean water.

“Water is a basic human right. Everyone deserves access to clean drinking water, no matter what our race or colour is or how rich or poor we are,” Autumn said.

Autumn seized the opportunity to share that message with the world when she addressed the United Nations in 2018 and again in 2019.

In 2019, she was also named chief water commissioner for the Anishinabek Nation, which means she speaks on behalf of 40 First Nations in Ontario.

As of October, more than 40 Indigenous communities in Canada had boil water advisories in place, which means residents have to boil their water before it’s safe to drink.

During the federal election campaign in 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to get rid of all boil water advisories in the country by March 2021.

Now leaders in many of those communities are saying Trudeau’s government won’t meet that deadline.

In October, the prime minister said more than 100 boil water advisories have been lifted since that promise was made, and his government continues to work “very hard” to reach its goal.

As for Autumn, she said the idea that time is running out “keeps me up when I can’t sleep at night.”

Click play to watch Autumn tell her story in her own words:

Interested in watching more profile videos featuring Canadian teen activists? Check out these links:

With files from Olivia Stefanovich/CBC
TOP IMAGE CREDIT: Andrew Lee/CBC, graphic design by Allison Cake/CBC

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