Currently — March 10th, 2023

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In honor of Women’s History Month, Currently is spotlighting the women and femmes who are—and continue to be—the backbone of the environmental and climate justice movement and pioneered the work to protect communities.

“We can drink neither money nor oil. We have to do everything we can for water.”

Autumn Peltier is an Anishinaabe Indigenous rights activist and clean water advocate from Wikwemikong First Nation Manitoulin Island, in Ontario, Canada.

Known as “the water warrior,” she realized the right to clean water when she just eight years old, visiting an Indigenous community who she discovered couldn’t drink from the tap due to pollution. Her mother explained that the community had been on a boiled-water advisory for over a decade.

At 13, she spoke to world leaders at the United Nations about water protection, and in 2017, 2018, and 2019, she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize. In 2019, she became the Chief Water Commissioner for the Aniishnabek Nation as well.

Upon her selection the current Anishinabek Nation Ground Council Chief Glen Hare praised Peltier’s “extensive nibi giikendaaswin (water knowledge). She represents 39 First Nations in Ontario responsible for bringing over communal concerns to the Anishinabek Council.

Peltier also learned about the importance of clean water and protecting the land from her great-aunt Josephine Mandamin, who was called a “water walker” for her years working as the Anishinabek Nation Chief Water Commissioner until her death in 2019.

“I advocate for water because we all came from water and water is literally the only reason we are here today and living on this earth,” she told EFTO Voice during an interview.

Peltier continues her work in protecting water and fighting for Indigenous rights.

—Aarohi Sheth

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