Creating space for transformative conversations
February 09, 2020

Climate Change and Human Rights with Sheila Watt-Cloutier: Events and Programming

2020 Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue

In February 2020, Simon Fraser University’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue will present Siila Watt-Cloutier with the Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue in recognition of her international leadership in the use of dialogue in her work as an advocate for Indigenous, environmental, and cultural rights. The award will include a one-week programming residency in Vancouver, Canada to explore relevant themes with practitioners, government decision-makers and members of the public.


In Inuktitut, her maternal language, there is no pronunciation for the ’sh’ sound. Hence Siila’s name is pronounced See-la in her community although her baptism name is Sheila. Siila will be used throughout the Blaney communication and programming in keeping with how her own community calls her.

Siila Watt-Cloutier is a respected Inuit leader and one of the world’s most recognized environmental, climate change and human rights advocate. 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.

Watt-Cloutier previously held the role of Canadian President of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) later to become the International Chair where she worked extensively to open space for dialogue that welcomes and invites the voices of Indigenous Peoples. Watt-Cloutier’s dialogue approach brings in Indigenous storytelling as an empathy-driven connector between the minds and hearts of those with whom she works

Sheila is author of the memoir, The Right to Be Cold, which was nominated for the 2016 BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction. The Right to Be Cold is a chronicle of Canada's north, detailing the devastating impact of climate change on Inuit communities.


February 18, 2020
Award ceremony (SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue)
The biennial Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue ceremony will take place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on February 18, 2020, to recognize the accomplishments of Siila Watt-Cloutier in using dialogue to address environmental and human rights issues.The event is celebrated with indigenous and non-indigenous leaders in climate action and friends of Simon Fraser University and SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue.  

February 19/20, 2020
Women’s Retreat (Squamish Eagle Valley Retreat ) 
This 1-night, 2-day retreat invites Indigenous women and allies in a curated space to connect and rejuvenate at a retreat centre. The crucial work that these women do can be deeply emotionally and personally demanding. As such, our goal with this retreat is to honour their deep work in climate action and social justice in your communities, by providing a space to rest and connect with each other.

February 24, 2020
Youth Day (SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for the Dialogue, Concourse)
This Youth Conference aimed to break down silos in climate action and convened 30- 40 Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth leaders working toward climate and social justice. The goal of the event is to build a safe space for dialogue and interactive activities that centre climate action as a holistic and justice issue - and learn from each other’s wisdom and experiences.

February 25, 2020
Campus Day: Campus Indigenous Faculty Dialogue (Diamond Alumni Centre)
The participants of this dialogue included Indigenous scholars in the SFU community, and is co-hosted by SFU's Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS). The purpose of this dialogue is to explore the current status of reconciliation and decolonization, collectively reflect on our position to intervene, and dialogue with Siila and FASS colleagues.

February 25, 2020
Campus Day: Class visit (SFU Burnaby)
As part of this year's progamming, Silla will conduct a class visit with 3/4th year undergraduate students in Indigenous Studies (formerly First Nations Studies) and 20 first year students in the Indigenous Bridging Program.

February 25, 2020
Graduate Research for Social Justice: A Dialogue with Sheila Watt-Cloutier (SFU Burnaby)
In under 3 minutes, graduate students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences will present to Siila their community-engaged participatory research, which is centered around activist/ advocacy goals. Students will have the opportunity to ask Siila questions about their research, and Siila will be provided an opportunity to comment. This public event will provide a reflective space for dialogue on community-based research and uphold the wisdom of an Indigenous elder.

February 26, 2020
Semester in Dialogue Class Visit (SFU Vancouver)
This class visit is aimed to create a reflective space for Semester in Dialogue (SID) students and Siila to engage in dialogue on Siila’s work and Semester in Dialogue students’ questions/ projects. 


The Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue is presented every second year to an individual who has demonstrated international excellence in the use of dialogue to increase mutual understanding and advance complex public issues. Nominations are encouraged from around the world in the fields of international diplomacy & conflict resolution, climate solutions, diversity and inclusion, democracy and civic engagement, and urban sustainability. 

“There is something more important than information. Values are far more important, and it is by understanding common values that decisions are made. We come to understand values through dialogue.”  — Dr. Jack P. Blaney, President Emeritus, Simon Fraser University


SFU’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue creates real-world impact for society’s most pressing challenges by using dialogue and engagement to co-create solutions, exchange knowledge, support community-engaged learning, and to build the capacity of others in the knowledge and practice of dialogue.

news media coverage

  • Join journalist Stuart McNish as he sits down with Sheila Watt-Cloutier to talk about the changes she has witnessed in the arctic:


Faculty Dialogue on Reconciliation and Decolonization: A Summary

On Tuesday, February 25, 2020, in collaboration with the SFU Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, the Centre for Dialogue hosted 20 Indigenous scholars and allies on SFU Burnaby campus for a dialogue on reconciliation and decolonization.  

Youth Day: A Summary

The Blaney Youth Day Workshop was organized as part of Siila Watt-Cloutier’s vision to connect with youth, and with the goal of creating a safer and brave space for intergenerational and peer-based dialogue on intersectional climate justice. Nearly 40 young Indigenous and non-Indigenous climate leaders across Metro Vancouver gathered at this event.