*six-two 35 under 35 nominee - human rights category
Autumn Peltier is no ordinary 13 year old. A Canadian native, Autumn has spent the last two years advocating for ‘sacred water’. She may be a pre-teen, but put her in front of the UN General Assembly, and this young warrior exudes the wisdom of someone way beyond her years...
Nominated by Sarain Fox, our judge for the human rights category as part of six-two’s 35 under 35 initiative, Autumn may be young but she absolutely does not let her youth (or anything, for that matter) hold her back. Her desire is simple: clean, unpolluted drinkable water for all. For Autumn, being indigenous makes this fight all the more personal; conserving the environment is part of her culture.
Having been historically stripped of their traditions and forced to live outside of their own natural laws, indigenous communities in Canada still fight to protect their indigenous knowledge and preserve their connection with the land. Science is just now catching on to what Autumn’s community has always known; water is alive. It is a sacred living and breathing entity, just as sentient as any human.
And while it’s true that water may have a soul, what it doesn’t have is a voice – and that’s where Autumn steps in.
"I am lending my voice to speak up for water, and Mother Earth. I’m lending my voice as we cannot just pray anymore. We must do something, and we must do it now." - Autumn Peltier
While it’s unusual to see such a young activist leading the way, it came as no surprise to her family that Autumn would take an activist route. Her inspiration is her aunt, renowned water protector Josephine Mandamin, a recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Excellence in Conservation. With family members like that, being badass clearly runs in her blood.
Autumn isn’t afraid to directly address politicians either; she even took on Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau himself (in person) to explain to him that he didn’t have indigenous people’s best interests at heart when he unveiled his plans to expand a pipeline into the mountains. And recently, speaking at the United Nations (as you do), Autumn told the general assembly to ‘warrior up’ and start taking water protection more seriously, as water connects all aspects of life and should be a top priority. Moving the room to silence, Autumn knows exactly how to get her point across.
With pollution, water scarcity and global warming issues more pressing than ever, Autumn has proved that you can be any age to give a voice to mother earth, and your own personal activism can take any form. This incredible young lady is living proof you’re never too young to stand up for what you believe in.
Want to find out the 5 individuals Sarain nominated within the human rights category, and to discover more about the six-two 35 under 35 initiative? Head here.