Sheila Watt-Cloutier Quotes
“In his book The Other Side of Eden, British anthropologist Hugh Brody translates this powerful Inuktitut word into English, describing it as “the mix of apprehension and fear that causes a suppression of opinion and voice.” Ilira, he explains, is caused by “people or things that have power over you and can neither be controlled nor predicted. People or things that make you feel vulnerable, and to which you are vulnerable.”
“The weather, which we had learned and predicted for centuries, had become uggianaqtuq—a Nunavut term for behaving unexpectedly, or in an unfamiliar way. Our sea ice, which had allowed for safe travel for our hunters and provided a strong habitat for our marine mammals, was, and still is, deteriorating. I described what we had already so carefully documented in the petition: the human fatalities that had been caused by thinning ice, the animals that may face extinction, the crumbling coastlines, the communities that were having to relocate—in other words, the many ways that our rights to life, health, property and a means of subsistence were being violated by a dramatically changing climate.”
“The individual rights of many are at stake. The collective rights of many peoples to their culture are also at stake. I encourage the commission to continue its work in protecting human rights. In so doing, you will protect the sentinels of climate change—the Indigenous peoples. By protecting the rights of those living sustainably in the Amazon basin or the rights of the Inuk hunter on the snow and ice, this commission will also be preserving the world’s environmental early-warning system.”
“Indeed, the idea of “the right to be cold” is less relatable than “the right to water” for many people.This isn’t meant to denigrate the people on the human rights commission and in the warmer countries, but rather to point out that the global connections we need to make in order to consider the world and its people as a whole are sometimes lacking. Because as hard as it is for many people to understand, for us Inuit, ice matters. Ice is life. (There are two wonderful books that help to make clear the importance of ice to our people. The Meaning of Ice: People and Sea Ice in Three Arctic Communities is edited by Shari Fox Gearheard, Lene Kielsen Holm, Henry Huntington, Joe Mello Leavitt, Andrew R. Mahoney, Margaret Opie, Toku Oshima and Joelie Sanguya and published by the International Polar Institute. SIKU: Knowing Our Ice, edited by S. Gearhead, I. Krupnik, G. Laidler and L. Kielsen Holm [London: Springer], also explores this essential truth in moving detail.)”
“During one of the CGI panel discussions, I asked Senator Clinton about implementing ACIA recommendations, and her answer assured me that she was aware of the assessment and understood the science. And during various CGI events, I also met fellow Sophie Prize winner Wangari Maathai of Kenya, who sadly has since passed away; environmental scientist Lester R. Brown; media mogul Ted Turner; and actor Brad Pitt. At the closing dinner, guests were even serenaded by the one and only Tony Bennett. Pretty big deal for an Inuk girl from the far reaches of the Arctic.”
“During the Arnait Nipingit Women’s Leadership Summit in 2010, I was asked what leadership means to me. “Leadership,” I told the group, “means never losing sight of the fact that the issues at hand are so much bigger than you. Leadership is about working from a principled and ethical place within yourself. It is to model, authentically, for others, a sense of calm, clarity and focus. Leadership is to always check inward, to ensure you are leading from a position of strength, not fear or victimhood, so you do not project your own limitations to those you are modelling possibilities for.”
“But the difficulty I had being front and centre, as well as all the other obstacles the job presented, made me realize that struggles follow you for a reason in life. They follow you until you learn how to overcome them, and come to clearly understand what your life’s intention is: that the greatest challenge is to remain true to yourself and to your beliefs.The”
“But the difficulty I had being front and centre, as well as all the other obstacles the job presented, made me realize that struggles follow you for a reason in life. They follow you until you learn how to overcome them, and come to clearly understand what your life’s intention is: that the greatest challenge is to remain true to yourself and to your beliefs.The self-reflection and growth I went through in those early days at the Makivik Corporation were good things.”
“DISTURBED BY THE INDISCRIMINATE USE of synthetic chemical pesticides after the Second World War, aquatic biologist Rachel Carson reluctantly turned her focus from nature writing to warning the public about the long-term effects of misusing pesticides. In Silent Spring (1962), she challenged the practices of agricultural scientists and the government and called for a change in the way humankind viewed the natural world. Carson was attacked by the chemical industry and some in government as alarmist, but she continued to courageously speak out, stressing that we are a vulnerable part of the natural world, subject to the same damage as the rest of the ecosystem. Testifying before Congress in 1963, Carson called for new policies to protect”
“Certainly no permission was asked of the owners. The dogs were simply shot. In some instances, the carcasses were thrown in piles and burnt. All this happened in view of their shocked owners. For the Nunavut perspectives of the dog slaughters, see the Qikiqtani Truth Commission Reports, which were commissioned by the Qikiqtani Inuit Association. The testimony of Inuit who watched the slaughter unfold is harrowing. Some men had come in from outpost camps and watched as their only means of transport, their only way to get back to their families, was destroyed before their eyes. Others said that they were preparing to go hunting, and their dogs were shot and killed as they stood harnessed to the sleds. Still others testified that the RCMP chased and shot loose dogs, even firing at those that had taken refuge under family homes. Some dogs were wounded and not killed, and their owners would beg the officials to track the animals down to put them out of their suffering. My own uncle Johnny eventually told me that he received a knock on his door, only to have someone of authority throw his new harnesses in his face and tell him, without remorse or apology, that he had just shot his dogs.”
“In all, over twelve hundred dogs were destroyed. And while the official explanation given at the time was that they were culled to prevent the spread of distemper and attacks by sick dogs, many now suspect that the destruction of the dog teams was another way to force Inuit families to move from outpost camps into settlements by removing their only mode of transportation.”
- Date of birth: December 02, 1953
- Born: in Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, Canada.
- Description: Sheila Watt-Cloutier is one of the world’s most recognized environmental and human rights activists. Experienced in working with global decision makers for over a decade, Watt-Cloutier offers a new model for twenty-first-century leadership. She treats the issues of our day—the environment, the economy, foreign policy, global health, and sustainability—not as separate concerns, but as a deeply interconnected whole.
In 2007, Watt-Cloutier was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy work in showing the impact global climate change has on human rights, especially in the Arctic, where it is felt more immediately and more dramatically than anywhere else in the world.
In addition to her Nobel nomination, Watt-Cloutier has been awarded the Aboriginal Achievement Award, the UN Champion of the Earth Award, and the prestigious Norwegian Sophie Prize. She is also an officer of the Order of Canada. From 1995 to 2002, she served as the elected Canadian president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC). In 2002, she was elected international chair of the council. Under her leadership, the world’s first international legal action on climate change was launched with a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.