Sudbury·Audio

Autumn Peltier named chief water commissioner by Anishinabek Nation

An Indigenous teen from northeastern Ontario is taking over her great aunt’s role as an advocate for water protection of the Great Lakes.

Peltier taking on the role from her great aunt Josephine Mandamin

Autumn Peltier has been named the chief water commissioner by the Anishinabek Nation. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)
A water advocate from northern Ontario has recently been named Chief Water Commissioner for Anishinabek First Nation. We chat with Autumn Peltier, who is aiming to ensure that water is given the same rights as human beings. 5:56

An Indigenous teen from northeastern Ontario is taking over her great aunt's role as an advocate for water protection of the Great Lakes.

Autumn Peltier, 14, has been named the chief water commissioner by the Anishinabek Nation. It is a political advocacy group for 40 First Nations across Ontario.

Peltier is no stranger to speaking up about protecting water. From Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory, Peltier's quest to protect water started when she was eight years old when she visited a community under a boil water advisory. Since then, she has had meetings on the importance of clean water with the Prime Minister and the Assembly of First Nations.

In 2018, she spoke at the United Nations on the topic.

Peltier says it's an honour to take on the role from her great aunt, Josephine Mandamin.

"She's my biggest mentor," Peliter said. "She's my hero. Every since I was a little girl, she taught me everything I needed to know about the importance of water and becoming a woman. She was one of the most important people to me."

Mandamin died earlier this year at the age of 77. Her life was spent protecting the Great Lakes. She founded the Mother Earth Walk and also helped establish the Great Lakes Guardians Council.

Autumn Peltier, far right, sits by the water with her sister, great aunt Josephine Mandamin, and mother. Peltier says her great aunt taught her the importance of protecting water. (Submitted by Stephanie Peltier)

Peltier says before Mandamin died, she asked her to continue working to protect water.

"I'm going to carry on her work until we don't have to anymore," she said.

Peltier says she will continue to advocate for water protection, in hopes others join her.

"I hope to see people standing up and more people taking action," she said.

With files from Up North