greta thunberg isn't the only young climate activist you need to know
Autumn Peltier, 'Little Miss Flint,' and Xiye Bastida are just a few who have been advocating for their community and the environment.
Over the past year, Greta Thunberg has turned her one-woman strike into a massive global movement and become the face of her generation’s fight against climate change. This week, the 16-year-old gave an impassioned speech at the UN Climate Action Summit about the decaying state of our Earth. She advanced her very public fight to save the planet by warning leaders that we are in the early stages of a mass extinction.
But, Greta isn’t the only young person speaking out about climate justice and the environment. Here are three activists of color who are also doing important work to save the planet.
Autumn Peltier is an internationally recognized Canadian water activist. She is a member of the Wikwemikong First Nation, and has been been fighting for water rights since she was eight years old. The Anishinaabe teen, who is now 15, was inspired by her great aunt Josephine Mandamin, who passionately advocated for the protection of the Great Lakes until her death earlier this year. Autumn has taken over her late aunt’s role as water commissioner and now represents 40 First Nations communities across Canada.
"No one should have to worry if the water is clean or if they will run out of water," Autumn said during her speech to the UN General Assembly in 2018. "No child should grow up not knowing what clean water is, or never know what running water is.”
Mari Copeny might be better known by her nickname Little Miss Flint, because of her work bringing attention to Flint, Michigan’s ongoing water crisis. When she was just eight years old, she wrote to President Barack Obama asking if he would come to meet with her and others in her community, who were affected by the contaminated water. The meeting resulted in $100 million in grants to repair the water system.
Now, at 12 years old, Little Miss Flint continues to advocate for her community and the environment. Since 2016, Mari has worked with the nonprofit organization Pack Your Back to help over 25,000 children with donations for everything from school supplies to clean water.
“No, our fight to save the planet didn't start today with the #ClimateStrike and it doesn't end today either,” she tweeted, following the global strike last week. “Many of us have been putting in the work for years to save our planet. Don't just amplify our voices today, but every day and support our solutions to save us.”
Xiye Bastida is a 17-year-old climate activist based in New York City. Raised in Mexico, Xiye saw first-hand the effects of climate change, as her hometown experienced extreme droughts and flooding. After relocating to New York four years ago and seeing the damage done by Hurricane Sandy, she knew she had to do something. Channeling her indigenous roots, Xiye hopes to inspire others to care for the Earth.
“People say the climate movement started decades ago, but I see it as indigenous people protecting Earth thousands of years ago,” she told PBS . “We need to bring [this philosophy] back and weave it into today’s society. People are here not to take over life, but to take care of it. It shouldn’t be ‘we the people.’ It should be ‘we the planet.’”
Xiye is a leader in the Fridays for Future movement and has worked alongside Greta to mobilize her peers. She continues to speak at town halls and rallies to help inspire her generation and make change happen worldwide.