Thousands of Canadians hit the streets Friday demanding change to stop the effects of climate change. Canadians joined people all over the world in demonstrations sparked by 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who started the global climate protest movement. Climate Strike Canada — a network of students, young people and activists spearheading the marches — put out a list of demands.
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.
During an emotional community meeting Tuesday evening, residents of a northern Ontario First Nation grappling with water problems demanded their chief and council ask the Canadian military to step in. Attawapiskat Band Coun. Rosie Koostachin said community members passed a resolution at the meeting calling on their band council to request Ottawa bring in the Canadian Armed Forces' Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to provide clean water.
The taps to Winnipeg's drinking water were first turned on in April 1919, but as the city celebrated its engineering feat and raised glasses of that clear liquid, another community's fortunes suddenly turned dark. Construction of a new aqueduct plunged Shoal Lake 40 into a forced isolation that it is only now emerging from, 100 years after Winnipeg's politicians locked their sights on the water that cradles the First Nation at the Manitoba–Ontario border. "The price that our community has paid for one community to benefit from that resource, it's just mind-boggling," said Shoal Lake 40 Chief Erwin Redsky.
Over a thousand people poured into the streets of downtown Winnipeg Friday to bring attention to the dozens of First Nations across Canada currently under boil water advisories. Roughly 1,100 people, including more than 800 students from the Seven Oaks School Division, took part, organizers estimate. Carrying signs, the demonstrators walked from city hall down Main Street to Portage Avenue, and then up Memorial Boulevard, before ending at the Manitoba Legislative Building.