WIKWEMIKONG FIRST NATION- A First Nations youth whose tears for clean water brought a promise from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to “protect the water” is the only youth from Canada nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize also known as the Nobel Prize for children.
Autumn Peltier, a 13-year-old Wikwemikong girl is one of 169 international nominees.
Autumn came to the public’s attention last year when, during the Assembly of First Nations Annual General Meeting in December, dressed in a water dress, she presented Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with a water bundle including a copper bowl, tobacco, a red cloth, and a small copper cup . She told the Prime Minister Trudeau, who is also minister of youth, she was “unhappy” when he decided to approve the Kinder Morgan pipeline in British Columbia.
Autumn, before several hundred people gathered in the conference hall at the Hilton Lac Leamy Casino in Gatineau, Que., said she was told by the elder to simply give the water bundle to the Prime Minister. But when she handed it to him she quietly told the prime minister ‘I am very unhappy with the choices you’ve made.’
She told APTN the Prime Minister told her “I understand that.” Autumn began to cry and said all she could tell him was, ‘The pipelines.’”
Autumn said Trudeau told her, “I will protect the water.”
The Texas-based pipeline company Kinder Morgan is in the Federal Court of Appeal to responding to a legal challenge launched by six First Nations, the cities of Vancouver and Burnaby, and two environmental groups. The project that was recommended by the National Energy Board, approved by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s federal government, and supported by Alberta’s government.
Those behind the appeal say that First Nations were not adequately consulted, and the National Energy Board’s approval process was flawed.
Peltier has worked to campaign for water protection and this past July was in Regina during the AFN’s summer general assembly to sign a treaty against the expansion of Alberta’s bitumen fields.
She said she is excited about the nomination. “I am really excited to find out if I win or not,” she said . “If I don’t win I am still really happy to be doing the work I am doing.”
Peltier has been involved in water rights for five years speaking firs at the age of 8, about the universal right to clean drinking water. She works as a youth advocate for protecting natural water resources and has lobbied to world leaders for water protection at the Children’s Climate Conference in Sweden.
“I’m sad because our waters are sick. Not just in Canada, but all over the world,” Peltier said in an address to the Assembly of First Nations earlier this year.
She said “When I think about how polluted the water is already, I think of future generations and my grandchildren and their grandchildren. Will they even have clean drinking water?” Peltier told CTV Montreal. “Water is alive and has a spirit, and like water is so sacred.”
Whether she wins the Nobel Prize or not Peltier says she will continue to speak out for the water. -With CP files_