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

January 17, 2020
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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. Receiving the award entails a week-long programming residency in Vancouver to explore relevant themes with youth, Indigenous leaders, practitioners and members of the public.

During her residency, Watt-Cloutier will take part in a dialogue with Indigenous faculty co-hosted with the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, meet with First Nations Studies and Indigenous Bridging Program students and hear student pitches for community-engaged research 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.

This story originally appeared in SFU News.