Sheila Watt-Cloutier was born in Kuujjuaq, an Inuit village at latitude 68°N in the Nunavik region of Quebec, Canada. Defending the rights of Inuit has been focus since her 1995 election as Canadian President of Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), the organization that represents the 155,000 Inuit of Canada. From 2002-2006 she was international Chair of ICC.
Ms. Watt-Cloutier work to defend Inuit human rights against the impacts of climate change included her 2005 launch of the world’s first international legal action on climate change: a petition from the Inuit sentinels to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Her memoir, The Right To Be Cold (Allen Lane, 2015), was shortlisted for the National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction, The Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political writing, and the Rakuten Kobo Emerging Writer Prize.
Ms Watt-Cloutier is an Officer of the Order of Canada and the recipient of numerous awards and accolades including the United Nations Champion of the Earth Award (2005); the Rachel Carson Prize (2007); a Nobel Prize nomination (2007); the Mahbub ul Haq Human Development Award (2007); the Right Livelihood Award (2015); a Lifetime Achievement Award from Women of Influence (2022); and more than 20 honorary doctorates.
Sheila Watt-Cloutier’s attendance at the INSTANT conference was made possible through the support of the Embassy of Canada to Italy and Polar Knowledge Canada.