Wiky’s Autumn Peltier tapped to speak at UN

Freshwater enthusiast slated for UN’s Water Day

WIIKWEMKOONG—Wiikwemkoong water advocate Autumn Peltier has earned a name for herself and her cause internationally, being nominated for the 2017 International Children’s Peace Prize, receiving the  12 and under Canadian Living ME to WE Youth Action Award last year, and most recently, being nominated for the Ontario Community Newspaper Association (OCNA) Ontario Junior Citizen Awards.

The 13-year-old Grade 8 Pontiac School student was nominated for the distinguished award by Grand Council Chief of the Anishinabek Nation Patrick Madahbee.

“In the fall of 2015 Autumn, along with fellow Wiikwemkoong youth advocate Francesca Pheasant, was chosen to represent Canada at the Children’s Climate Conference in Sweden where they shared their concern about climate change and presented a communiqué on behalf of the 64 youth in attendance to the Swedish Environment Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Asa Romson,” explained Chief Madahbee in his nomination of Autumn. “In 2016, Autumn attended a winter meeting of Canada’s premiers in Vancouver, helping her aunt Josephine Mandamin during her water ceremony, singing a water song and sharing her concerns about climate change and the future of water with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a special dinner following the meeting.”

Autumn Peltier of Wiikwemkoong has earned a name for herself on the international stage and will speak at the United Nations this March. Photos by Ireva Photography

Chief Madahbee also noted how last October, Autumn was featured in the Canadian Living Magazine for her passion as a clean drinking water advocate which earned her the 12 and under Canadian Living Me to WE Youth Action Award.

“Autumn is proud to be Anishnaabe and she has a great spirit about her,” commented Chief Madahbee. “When she had the opportunity to speak with Prime Minister Trudeau in December of 2016 about the water she said she is ‘just trying to help her people and the environment and it made her feel proud.’ She is a strong young woman.”

The OCNA will be announcing the Ontario Junior Citizen Award winners on Friday, January 26.

Autumn was also recently asked to speak at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly at World Water Day on March 22, 2018 at the United Nations Headquarter in New York.

“We recognize and applaud your leadership and advocacy on the importance of clean drinking water and your initiatives to provide safe water to your people and the First Nations communities in your territories,” said the invitation to Autumn from the UN. “By lending your powerful voice to this important cause, you give voice to the youth, most needy and vulnerable among us who have none.”

As well, Autumn learned last week that she will be awarded the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers in January.

“On behalf of Her Excellency the Right Honorable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, I am pleased to inform you that you have been awarded the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers in recognition of your contributions to your community,” states a letter from the Governor General’s office. “An official Canadian honour, this recognizes exceptional volunteer achievements from across the country and abroad in a wide range of fields.”

Autumn Peltier of Wiikwemkoong.
Photo by Ireva Photography

Autumn will be presented with the medal on Friday, January 26, 2018.

“It feels really good to be asked to speak at the UN, to receive the Sovereign’s Medal and to be nominated for a Junior Citizen Award,” Autumn told The Expositor on Monday. “It’s amazing to be receiving these awards, but it’s not about the piece of paper, it’s about bringing attention to the cause I’m advocating for—water.”

Autumn said that the last year has been a whirlwind of speaking engagement requests and media interviews, but that after travelling at least three times every week, she has realized she needs to slow down and focus on her life in Wiikwemkoong.

“I have been saying ‘no’ to more things and working on advocating from home,” said Autumn, who noted that she needed to spend more time on school. “I needed to slow down a bit. I’ve started working on ideas for my UN speech and I’m going to be selling t-shirts to raise money to help communities in need of clean water.”

The t-shirts, which feature a photo of Autumn and a quote from her, ‘when there is no more clean drinking water my tears will fall as oil,’ can be purchased for $35 through Autumn and her mom Stephanie Peltier. Contact: akikwe1@hotmail.com