Climate Change and Human Rights with Siila Watt-Cloutier (2019/20)

February 18, 2020 - February 26, 2020

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

About Siila

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 advocates. In 2007, Siila 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.

Siila 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. Siila’s dialogue approach embraces Indigenous storytelling as an empathy-driven connector between the minds and hearts of those with whom she works

Siila 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.


Award Ceremony (SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue)
February 18, 2020

The biennial Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue ceremony took 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 was celebrated with Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders in climate action and friends of Simon Fraser University and SFU's Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue. 

Image taken at the award ceremony.

Women’s Retreat (Squamish Eagle Valley Retreat)
February 19 - 20, 2020

This 1-night, 2-day retreat invited 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 was 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

    February 24, 2020

    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 was 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

    February 25, 2020

    The participants of this dialogue included Indigenous scholars in the SFU community, and was co-hosted by SFU's Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS). The purpose of this dialogue was to explore the current status of reconciliation and decolonization, collectively reflect on our position to intervene, and dialogue with Siila and FASS colleagues.

Image taken at the award ceremony.

Campus Day: Class Visit (SFU Burnaby) 
February 25, 2020

As part of the 2020 programming, Silla conducted a class visit with third and fourth-year undergraduate students in Indigenous Studies (formerly First Nations Studies) and 20 first-year students in the Indigenous Bridging Program.

Photo taken at Youth Day.

Graduate Research for Social Justice: A Dialogue with Siila Watt-Cloutier (SFU Burnaby) 
February 25, 2020

In under three minutes, graduate students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences presented to Siila their community-engaged participatory research, which was centered around activist and advocacy goals. Students had the opportunity to ask Siila questions about their research, and Siila was provided an opportunity to comment. This public event provided a reflective space for dialogue on community-based research and upheld the wisdom of an Indigenous elder.

Photo taken at Youth Day.

Semester in Dialogue Class Visit (SFU Vancouver) 
February 26, 2020

This class visit was aimed to create a reflective space for Semester in Dialogue students and Siila to engage in dialogue on Siila’s work and the students’ questions/projects. 

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The Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue is presented to an individual who exemplifies, internationally, the spirit and programs of SFU's Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue. Recipients of the award have demonstrated excellence and accomplishments in using dialogue to further complex issues of public importance.