Shelia Watt-Coutier is respected internationally for her work around climate change, the environment, and social justice. 

Shelia spent her early life in Fort Chimo (this early settlement was eventually moved across the river to what is presently known as Kuujjuaq). When she was 10, the federal government sent her to school in Southern Canada, away from her community and family. Around 1970, she returned to Nunavik and work at the local hospital. She also worked in education, as a teacher and administrative worker, in Montreal and Kuujjuaq. She also worked for the Makivik Corporation, where she advocated for the rights of Nunavik youth.

Shelia was eventually elected president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) where she spoke internationally about climate change, pollution, and their impacts on environmental stability and life in circumpolar regions. Shelia was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. In 2015, she published her first book which was titled, The Right to Be Cold: One Woman’s Story of Protecting Her Culture, the Arctic and the Whole Planet. Her book has won numerous awards and her work continues to inspire others to take action against climate change. 

Author:  Text by LEARN Social Sciences, based on text by the Canadian Encyclopedia.