Canadian Indigenous water activist Autumn Peltier, 15, addressed hundreds of international guests at UN headquarters in Manhattan on Saturday, where she urged the global community to respect the sacredness and importance of clean water. "I've said it once, and I'll say it again: we can't eat money or drink oil," said the activist from Wiikwemkoong First Nation on Manitoulin Island in northern Ontario. Peltier spoke at the Global Landscapes Forum, a platform on sustainable land use founded by UN Environment and the World Bank that's dedicated to achieving development and climate goals.
The first time Autumn Peltier noticed a boil-water advisory in a First Nations community, she was just eight years old. “I asked my mom what that meant,” Peltier, who is turning 15 this week, told CTVNews.ca by phone. “When she explained to me that our water is not safe to drink, it all hit me.” The Indigenous teen from northeastern Ontario has since been advocating for clean water in First Nations communities across the country. Peltier is in New York City this week to speak about the importance of clean water at the Global Landscape Forum at the UN.
A reserve cut off from the mainland and under a boil-water advisory for almost two decades is taking its case to the United Nations.
Shoal Lake 40 First Nation, which straddles the Manitoba-Ontario boundary, became isolated a century ago during construction of an aqueduct which carries water to Winnipeg. The reserve has no all-weather road and has been without clean water for 17 years.