Sheila Watt Cloutier

Sheila Watt Cloutier has made it her life’s work to preserve the environment and advocate for the people of the circumpolar region. Born in the tiny community of Kuujjuaq in Northern Quebec, Ms. Watt-Cloutier was raised traditionally on the land for ten years, before attending school in Churchill, Manitoba. She currently makes her home in Iqaluit and is the Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, the Inuit organization that represents the interests of the Inuit peoples of northern Canada, Greenland, Alaska and Russia. She was elected president of ICC in 1995 and reelected to this position in 1998. In this capacity, she was successful in persuading states to sign a global agreement to ban the generation and use of persistent organic pollutants, such as DDT and the PCBs that contaminate the Arctic food chain. For this work she received the inaugural global environmental award from the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations. Ms. Watt-Cloutier is currently engaged in climate change initiatives with the aim of persuading states to reduce their emission of greenhouse gases. She visited Chukotka in Northern Russia earlier this year and announced a pilot project with the region’s Indigenous peoples to promote international marketing of local arts and crafts. In addition to her work with the environment, Ms. Watt-Cloutier was the Corporate Secretary of Makivik Corporation, the organization that looked after the funds from the 1975 James Bay and Northern Quebec Land Claims Agreement. She has also worked extensively to improve health conditions and education for Aboriginal communities.