When Autumn Peltier was eight, she learned the tap water on a neighbouring reserve wasn’t safe to drink, or even to use for hand-washing. That injustice triggered her decade-long advocacy campaign for safe drinking water. She made headlines as a 12 year-old, admonishing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at an Assembly of First Nations event for the choices his government had made for her people.
In this bonus episode for World Water Day 2023, Peltier and Jay discuss the way her life shifted, as she started campaigning for clean water. Peltier also shares what it was like to shoot her documentary The Water Walker, and lets us in on her plans for the future now that she’s finished high school.
On a day devoted to improving the way we manage, consume, and use water, the message is ‘Be The Change’ – something Peltier takes to heart. Two billion people still live without clean water, and the United Nations says member countries have fallen behind on their goal to bring everyone safe water and sanitation by the year 2030.
“The message is so much more powerful and so much more stronger when it's coming from a young person,” said Peltier, the chief water commissioner for the Anishinabek Nation. “That's when you know something is wrong, and something has to be done.”