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London girl, 10, moved by hardships in Attawapiskat launches parliamentary petition

Greta Fleet, 10, was motivated to act after hearing an elder from Attawapiskat First Nation speak at her school.
Greta Fleet, 10, was motivated to act after hearing an elder from Attawapiskat First Nation speak at her school. 980 CFPL

After gathering over 47,000 signatures with her Change.org petition, a 10-year-old London, Ont. girl is hoping the public continues to engage as she works to get the attention of Parliament.

READ MORE: Indigenous communities and water crises — is a real solution in the works?

“An elder came to my school when I was still nine,” Greta Fleet explained on The Craig Needles Show on 980 CFPL.

“She told me about what things were in her community, in Attawapiskat, and I felt really bad. I asked what I could do to help and she said to write a letter, so I did.”

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Fleet’s letter was turned into a Change.org petition that went viral and caught the attention of London North Centre MP Peter Fragiskatos, with whom she later sat down at his constituency office.

“I told him the story about why I wrote the letter and that their schools have no heat, their homes do not have any drinkable water, and a lot of [buildings are] really old and badly need fixing.”

Fragiskatos suggested an e-petition through the House of Commons website.

“In order for the federal government to give a formal response to a petition,” Fragiskatos explained, “one has to go through the Parliament of Canada, launch a petition through the Parliament, and then the government reviews the petition.”

The e-petition launched July 23 and is open until August 22. As of Friday afternoon, it had over 300 signatures.

Fragiskatos says he plans to keep working with Fleet.

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“You can say it’s a cliche to say that a politician is inspired, but I can’t put into words what it’s like when a nine-year-old little girl sits down with you and says, ‘I care about the country. I care about the plight and position of Indigenous peoples in this land. We need to do better,’ and I agree with her completely.”

READ MORE: Officials to meet with Attawapiskat families to discuss water concerns: Indigenous Services Minister

Attawapiskat, meanwhile, declared a state of emergency in July due to concerns about disinfection byproducts — trihalomethanes — in its water.

Soon after, two NDP MPs visited the community, followed later by Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O’Regan, who said the government was committing more assistance, including $1.5 million for immediate repairs to the existing treatment plant.

— With files from The Canadian Press.