Ocean Elders announced today that Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Environmental, Cultural and Human Rights Advocate, has joined as an Ocean Elder. She is the past Chair of Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), the organization that represents internationally the more than 155,000 Inuit of Canada, Greenland, Alaska, and Chukotka in the Far East of the Federation of Russia.
Defending the rights of Inuit and alerting world leaders on global warming’s already dangerous impacts has been at the forefront of Ms. Watt-Cloutier’s mandate since her election as President of ICC Canada in 1995 and re‑election in 1998. Ms. Watt-Cloutier was instrumental as a spokesperson for a coalition of northern Indigenous Peoples in the global negotiations that led to the 2001 Stockholm Convention banning the generation and use of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that contaminate the arctic food web. She served as International Chair of ICC from 2002-2006.
She sums up her work by saying: “I do nothing more than remind the world that the Arctic is not a barren land devoid of life but a rich and majestic land that has supported our resilient culture for millennia. Even though small in number and living far from the corridors of power, it appears that the wisdom of the land strikes a universal chord on a planet where many are searching for sustainability.”
She is the author of “The Right To Be Cold,” published in 2015, which was shortlisted for the British Columbia Canadian Non-Fiction Award, The Cohen Shaughnessy for Political writing, the Cobo Emerging Writer Prize and the CBC Canada Reads competition. Ms. Watt-Cloutier has also taught the Human Dimension of Climate Change at both at Bowdoin College and Mount Allison University.
For her work, Ms. Watt-Cloutier is the recipient of multiple awards, including: 2004 Aboriginal Achievement Award for Environment, 2005 United Nations Champion of the Earth Award, 2005 Sophie Prize, 2006 International Environmental Leadership Award, 2007 Rachel Carson Prize, 2007 Mahbub ul Haq Human Development Award, 2015 Right Livelihood Award, and the 2017 Climate Change Award from the Prince Albert of Monaco Foundation. She was also made an Officer in the Order of Canada in December 2006, publicly nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by members of the Norwegian parliament, including the former Minister of the Environment in February 2007, named as one of 25 Transformational Canadians by the Globe and Mail and CTV in 2010, chosen as one of four ‘Canadians who made a difference’ by Canada Post in 2011, and her life’s work was memorialized in a Canadian Stamp in 2012 commemorating the Jubilee Year.
Ms. Watt-Coultier is the recipient of honorary degrees from Bowdoin College, Dalhousie University, La Institute Nacionale de la Recherché Scientifique, Law Society of Upper Canada, Loyalist College, McMaster University, Queens University, Royal Roads University, University of Alberta, University of Northern British Columbia, University of Guelph, University of Windsor, University of Ottawa, University of Victoria, University of Winnipeg, University of Western Ontario, Wilfred Laurier University, and York University.