Surrey Teachers had the privilege of listening to a keynote by Sheila Watt-Cloutier. Sheila is a human rights advocate known for her work of showing how climate change has impacted Inuit communities. The presentation gave historical background of wrongs committed against Inuit people. She also enlightened listeners to the beauty of the Inuit culture and how this culture has endured despite colonial oppression. She gave details of how Inuit traditions teach important character skills such as patience, tenacity, and respect. With the effects of colonization and with climate change affecting ice stability – the Inuit’s ability to follow traditional hunting practices has declined. In addition, toxins that have ended up in the Arctic food chain are affecting Inuit mother’s ability to breast feed their babies. These factors have resulted in a loss to the Inuit way of life. As a result, Inuit communities have had many challenges in recent years, such as fighting substance abuse, an increase in violence, and suicide. Sheila’s powerful presentation was moving. It made me really think about how we, as a global community, need to support one another and think about how our actions affect others both near and far. Sheila’s book, The Right to Be Cold, is available for use in classrooms and can be ordered through LRS.

Leave a reply