Analysis Sheila Watt-Cloutier

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| Photo: Stephen Lowe | | Sheila Watt-Cloutier Citation of Lifetime Achievement, 2006Beneficiary: Inuit Circumpolar Conference Foundation Canada, $5,000 award"Our emotional, spiritual and cultural well-being and health depend on protecting the land," says Watt-Cloutier. "We cannot find our way with band-aid solutions. For Inuit, the environment is everything."Sheila Watt-Cloutier has a magnificent view from her living room window in Iqaluit. In late March, the scene — a classic Arctic vista of snow-covered Frobisher Bay — typically stirs her deepest feelings of connection to the Northern landscape. "Every day when I wake up, I know that I am an Inuk woman who gets life from the bay," she says. "There is a living energy that comes from our land."This year,…show more content…
"We rarely get lightning, even in summer. We were expecting blizzards and snow. Without snow, where do the seals make dens for their pups? The caribou can't eat ice-covered lichen, and so they've gone north. We are worried they will be weak, and the calves won't be born healthy in the spring."Whether it's blizzards or hurricanes or floods and heat waves, extreme weather events due to climate change are headline news in Southern Canada. In Nunavut, however, the effects of global warming are destroying the Inuit way of life. And Watt-Cloutier, in her role as chair of the international Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC), is confronting the climate-change beast. She has placed her name as principal plaintiff on a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and is requesting relief from human rights violations due to the world's most pressing environmental problem. "For every one degree the temperature increases per year globally, it's more like three to five degrees in the Arctic," she says. "For us, this is a monumental change."Born in 1953 in Kuujjuaq, Que., Watt-Cloutier lived a traditional Inuit life until she attended school in Nova Scotia at age 10. "I travelled only by

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