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.
People in Attawapiskat continue to speak out about their water problems with some high-profile visitors this week. Attawapiskat's Chief and Council declared a state of emergency more than a week ago when water tests came back with higher-than accepted levels of trihalomethanes. Exposure to trihalomethanes can be connected to an increased risk of bladder and possibly colon cancer in people who drank chlorinated water for 35 years or more.