Autumn Peltier, the inspiring 15-year-old Chief Water Commissioner for the Anishinabek Nation, has been nominated for an International Children’s Peace Prize, along with dozens of youth from all across the globe who are using their fresh perspectives, boundless ideals, and young wisdom to enact meaningful and necessary change in our world. As a First Nations water protector, Peltier has been following in the footsteps of her late great aunt Josephine Mandamin who spent many years of her life protecting the Great Lakes for future generations. “I’m going to carry on her work until we don’t have to anymore,” she told CBC News earlier this year after being appointed into her position as water commissioner.
Peltier is not new to activism. Like many youth activists, she has steadily been pursuing her goal of environmental protection without the glare of the media. Peltier spoke last year at the UN General Assembly, insisting, “No one should have to worry if the water is clean or if they will run out of water. No child should grow up not knowing what clean water is, or never know what running water is. “We all have a right to this water as we need it — not just rich people, all people.” Her perspective reflects the fact that she has spent nearly half her life confronting what it means for a community’s water sources to be undrinkable or for there to be no running water whatsoever.
This week, Peltier was invited to speak again at the UN General Assembly. Leading up to the Climate Summit, she told Anishinabek News that her focus would be to ensure that First Nations priorities and strengths are part of the conversation. “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,” she explained. “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.”
This year marks the 15th annual International Children’s Peace Prize Awards, which coincide with the Nobel Peace Prize Awards in October. Previous winners of the Children’s Peace Prize include Malala Yousafzai in 2013 and last year’s March for Our Lives activists.