Creating space for transformative conversations
January 10, 2020

On February 18th, SFU’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue will present Sheila Watt-Cloutier with the Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue in recognition of her outstanding global leadership using dialogue in her work as an advocate for Indigenous, environmental and cultural rights. The award will include a week-long programming residency in Vancouver, Canada to explore relevant themes with youth, Indigenous leaders, practitioners and members of the public.

“We are thrilled that Sheila Watt-Cloutier has accepted this honour,” said Shauna Sylvester, Executive Director of the Centre.  “Sheila’s quiet determination has moved thousands – from global leaders to young climate advocates. She is an educator, dialogue innovator and elder who has helped us understand the experiences of the Arctic and learn about what this means for our shared future”.

About Sheila (Siila)* Watt-Cloutier

Siila Watt-Cloutier is a respected Inuit leader and one of the world’s most recognized environment, climate change and human rights advocates. In 2007, Watt-Cloutier was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy showing the impact global climate change has on human rights—specifically in the Arctic.

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.  

Watt-Cloutier is author of the memoir, The Right to Be Cold, a chronicle of Canada’s North detailing the devastating impact of climate change on Inuit communities. The book was nominated for the 2016 BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction.  

About the Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue

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 and the recipient is chosen with a robust selection process led by a strong committee.

*In Inuktitut, Sheila's maternal language, there is no pronunciation for the sound ‘sh’. Hence Sheila’s name is pronounced See-la (Siila) in her community. Siila will be used in public communications and programming in keeping with her language.