Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg has been making headlines these past few months, and much more these past few days after her powerful UN speech addressing world leaders to act on solving climate change issues—also because she has been leading climate change strikes all over the globe. As people are becoming awakened by this 16-year-old girl’s outcry, fortunately, she is not alone in her mission.
All over the world, many active youths have been taking initiative in stirring up mass awareness of the effects of unethical human practices upon our environment, and we believe that they deserve the same recognition as Greta.
Autumn Peltier, a 13-year-old Anishinaabe girl from Wiikwemkoong First Nation in Canada, has been a vocal advocate for protecting water. She lives on the Unceded Anishinawbe Territory on Manitoulin Island in northern Ontario. She began her advocacy on behalf of water at the age of eight and was inspired by her great aunt, Josephine Mandamin. The turning point for her advocacy was attending a ceremony at the Serpent River Reservation and saw a warning sign against drinking the water, and learned that not all people in Canada have access to clean drinking water.
“Many people don’t think water is alive or has a spirit,” she said, in a speech at the United Nations. “My people believe this to be true. We believe that water is sacred because we are born of water and live in water for nine months. My heart is not for sale and neither is our water or our lands.”
WATCH: Chricelyl, a 16-year-old lumad from North Cotabato speaks for free protest for the environment, ancestral land ownership, and human rights at Luneta earlier this afternoon.
Chricelyl is a 16-year-old Lumad from North Cotabato, and has been fighting for the restoration of Indigenous People’s lands, and the environmental restoration of our planet. She spoke for free protest for the environment, ancestral land ownership, and human rights at a climate change strike in Luneta Park last Sept 20.
“Hindi sila sanay sa kritikal at mapanuring babataan gaya natin” (They are not used to a critical and observant youth like us) she said in her speech.
Artemisa Xakriabá, a 19-year-old from the Brazilian Amazon, spoke last Sept. 20, Friday at the climate strike in New York City about the increasing destruction of the land in her part of the world, pointing out that the indigenous people are overwhelmingly affected by climate change.
“We fight for our Mother Earth because the fight for Mother Earth is the mother of all other fights,” Xakriabá said. “We are fighting for your lives. We are fighting for our lives. We are fighting for our sacred territory. But we are being persecuted, threatened, murdered, only for protecting our own territories. We cannot accept one more drop of indigenous blood spilled.”
Helena Gualinga, 17, is from the Ecuadorian Amazon, and has been fighting for climate issues her entire life. She grew up in a small community called Sarayaku, and has been fighting big oil companies since she was a little kid. She’s seen her uncles and aunts fight against these big companies to protect their territories—which they have been criminalized for.
“I also work with indigenous women and children back in the Amazon,” she said. “I post things on the internet and keep people informed of what’s happening back in the Amazon. I’m trying to be a voice for my people, what they have to say, from Ecuador.”