Though Autumn Peltier just turned 13-years-old, this young girl has already made quite the impact with her views on the environment, especially her passion for Canada’s water.
Autumn is from the Wikwemikong First Nation on Manitoulin Island in Northern Ontario and has been interested in the environment her entire life.
Her advocacy for protecting water began at 8-years-old when she entered a writing contest in her community.
Stephanie Peltier is Autumn’s mother, said Autumn entered and won a Odawa/Ojibwe language native speaking contest.
“She chose to write on ‘water’ and the essay was received well enough for her to win that contest,” said Stephanie Peltier, who works full time with Raising the Spirit Mental Wellness Program. “From there, she won another writing contest, which eventually caught the attention of organizers of the Children’s Climate Conference in Sweden, where she was invited to attend.”
Peltier says she is very proud of what her daughter is accomplishing and supports her 100 percent.
“She is very deserving of it. This is her passion. She is always writing about water and the environment,” said Peltier. “Like the other day, I asked her, ‘Do you mind me asking what you’re writing about?’ and Autumn said, ‘I just had a thought and an idea, and I want it write it down.’”
As a parent, Peltier says the attention her daughter is receiving is overwhelming, but her priorities are being balanced when it comes to Autumn. Of course Peltier does tell Autumn there are people out there who do not share the same views as hers.
“She does not have access to social media, so she’s not fully aware of the impact she is creating,” said Peltier. “I want to steer her away from some of the negative comments that some people post on social media, and at the same time share with her the positive feedback.”
Autumn was eight years old when she gave her first speech about the universal right to clean drinking water. Since then, she has worked as an advocate for protecting natural water resources.
Her efforts include working toward the treaty signing against the expansion of oil sands to lobbying world leaders for water protection at the Children’s Climate Conference in Sweden.
Autumn is now in the running for the International Children’s Peace Prize. She is the only Canadian up for the prestigious award where the top ten finalists will be chosen November 10th. Then, on December 4th, the Peace Prize will be awarded to the winner in Amsterdam,
When I had the opportunity to chat with Autumn I learned she is an intelligent and well-spoken young girl, and asked for her thoughts on being considered for the Peace Prize.
“If I do win the award, I will use that as a platform to further educate people about the current state of water and continue my advocacy on the issues of water and environment protection,” Autumn said. “When I think about how polluted the water is, I think of future generations. Will they even have clean drinking water? Water is alive and has a spirit, and like water is so sacred.”
Autumn also spoke about meeting Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.
“I was only supposed to present him with the water bundle as a gift,” said Autumn. “But at that moment when I met him, I took the opportunity to tell him that I was very unhappy about the broken promises he has made towards our people and discouraged about the pipeline and how unsafe they are towards our environment.”
Autumn said that the Prime Minister told her, “I understand that and I will protect the water.”
Autumn said her 8th grade classmates at Waase Abin Pontiac School watch her sometimes on livestream and they support and share her views on protecting the water. Autumn said she is grateful for their support.
Among her many accomplishments, she recently addressed the Assembly of First Nations and told the First Nation leaders her sadness over the state of water, not only in Canada, but around the world.
Autumn is the middle sister of three. Her older sister is named Naomi and is 19. Her younger sister is Ciara, and she is 11.
Autumns’s favourite subjects are literature and mathematics, and she plans to attend law school and study political science.
“My dream one day is to be AFN National Chief and Minister of Environment,” said Autumn.