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Sheila Watt-Cloutier is the recipient of the 2019-2020 Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue.

Awards and recognition

Sheila Watt-Cloutier announced as 2019-2020 recipient of Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue

January 10, 2020

Updated: Feb 14, 2020

Sheila Watt-Cloutier will receive the Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue recognizing her outstanding global leadership using dialogue in her work as an advocate for Indigenous, environmental and cultural rights.

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.

“We are thrilled that Sheila Watt-Cloutier has accepted this honour,” says Shauna Sylvester, executive director of SFU’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue.  “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.”

The Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue will bestow the award on Feb. 18 followed by a week of programming:

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.

Watt-Cloutier was previously elected the 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 incorporates Indigenous storytelling as an empathy-driven connector between the minds and hearts of those she works with.

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.

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.