Her journey began along the cold waters of the Koksoak River in Quebec, where as an Inuk child, Sheila Watt-Cloutier fished and picked berries in the ice and snow in the frigid Canadian north. Now Watt-Cloutier, a Nobel Prize nominee, travels the globe in the name of motherhood, indigenous people, and the Arctic environment, advocating for pollution reduction and fighting against global warming.
In fast-paced travels, Watt-Cloutier visited the UW yesterday as part of the Leadership Fireside series hosted at the Ethnic Cultural Center. The Leadership Fireside is co-sponsored by the Native Organization of Indigenous Scholars (NOIS) RSO and the Husky Leadership Initiative. Watt-Cloutier spoke about leadership, her past advocacy, and illustrating the struggle of indigenous tribes in the face of a rapidly and harmfully changing world.
To start, she asked the crowd of 30-plus how the husky was chosen as the University of Washington’s mascot, since Watt-Cloutier traveled by dog sled as a child. She also asked if there were any fellow indigenous people in the audience, and representatives ranged from Navajo to Seneca.
Watt-Cloutier then spoke about how she’s raised awareness of Inuit struggles, a microcosm for the global effects of climate change, through bold and eager leadership. She has collected numerous awards and honorary degrees from around the world for her support of reducing climate change for indigenous and Arctic peoples around the world.