Sheila Watt-Cloutier in Conversation

Sheila Watt-Cloutier

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The Canadian Inuit advocate explores the challenges facing her region.

Please note. This event will now be online only.

This event will be live streamed on the British Library platform, live or within 48 hours on catch up. Viewing links will be sent out shortly before the event.

A live conversation with Sheila Watt-Cloutier exploring the impact of climate and environmental change on Inuit communities and the Polar regions. She looks at the way the people who live there are part of global activity to combat these challenges.

Sheila will be in conversation with Polly Russell, Head of the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library. She will also respond to questions from Inuk youth, Ashley Cummings, and there will be an audience Q&A.

The event also is part of Living Nature  three days of events exploring the relationship between humans and nature, co hosted with Invisible Dust.

Ticket holders are invited to stay for a Listening Session with Manari Ushigua, a ceremonial leader from the Sapara people from the Ecuadorian Amazon, and special guest listeners 20.30 – 21.30.

Supported by the Canada-UK Foundation and presented by the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library. 


Sheila Watt-Cloutier is an Environment, Cultural and Human Rights Advocate and has for decades represented the issues pertaining to the protection of Inuit culture and the Arctic. In 1995 she was elected President of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC). As its spokesperson, she played a critical role in the UN negotiations to ban the use of Persistent Organic Pollutants which had been polluting the Arctic food chain. More recently, Watt-Cloutier has focused upon the impact of climate change on Inuit communities. As Chair of ICC representing the four countries of Canada, Alaska, USA, Greenland and Russia where 165,000 Inuit reside, in 2007 she launched the first legal petition to the Inter American Commission on Human Rights, linking climate change to human rights. She received a 2015 Right Livelihood Award for her work on climate change in the Arctic and has been awarded the Aboriginal Achievement Award, the UN Champion of the Earth Award, and the prestigious Norwegian Sophie Medal. In 2007 Watt-Cloutier was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Her book, The Right to be Cold, about the effects of climate change on Inuit communities, was published in 2015.

Polly Russell is Head of the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library. Polly read American & Commonwealth Arts at Exeter University, was awarded a Masters in Journalism at Louisiana State University and holds a PhD in Human Geography from the University of Sheffield. Her research focusses on twentieth century women’s activism and feminism as well as the history and politics of food. Since 2012 Polly has had a column in the Financial Times Saturday magazine, The History Cook and she is the historical presenter on the BBC2 history series Back in Time.

Ashley Cummings (she/her) is a proud Inuk youth from Pangnirtung, Nunavut and is currently living in Whitehorse, Yukon. She is working for the Training Policy Committee and studying Indigenous Governance at Yukon University. She is a graduate fellow with the North American and Arctic Defense and Security Network, and is a leading voice for climate advocacy. As a previous member of the Prime Minister’s Youth Council, Ashley advised the Prime Minister on issues that have included (but are not limited to) rural and northern health/well-being, supporting ethical and Indigenous-led tourism, mental health and other issues affecting youth across Canada. Her colourful background living in Nunavut, Yukon, Nova Scotia, Quebec and New Brunswick has given her a comprehensive perspective on life for Indigenous young people from coast to coast to coast.

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The Canada-UK Foundation promotes Canada in the UK through education and shares Canadian values by creating platforms for conversation and the exchange of ideas.

The Eccles Centre supports and promotes creative research and lifelong learning about the Americas through the world-class collections of the British Library.

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Name: Sheila Watt-Cloutier in Conversation
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546