“We can develop our Arctic in a very socially conscious and very balanced way by tapping into the ingenuity of Inuit culture,” said Sheila Watt-Cloutier, pictured here in Iqaluit, Nunavut in 2007, at the International Economic Forum of the Americas in Montreal. (Audrey Boivin/International Economic Forum of the Americas)

Indigenous participation key to Arctic development, Inuit activist tells Economic Forum of the Americas

Eye on the Arctic brings you stories and newsmakers from around the North

Full Inuit participation will be key to long-term sustainable development in the Arctic as well as helping the world confront the current climate crisis, Sheila Watt-Cloutier, a long-time Canadian Inuit rights activitst, told an audience at the International Economic Forum of the Americas this week.

“The Inuit right to be cold is connected to everyone’s right to a healthy environment,” Watt-Cloutier said on Wednesday.

“Because our home is a barometer of health for the planet, if we cannot save the Arctic, can we really hope to save the forests and the rivers and farm lands of other regions? We can develop our Arctic in a very socially conscious and very balanced way by tapping into the ingenuity of Inuit culture.

“My message to you is to look to, and support morally, respectfully, openly, and yes financially, the Indigenous world,” said Watt-Cloutier, who received a standing ovation from the international audience at the end of her 37-minute speech.

“The urban setting of the world has lost its connection to each other, to its food source, to its environment and that’s why we’re debating this issue of climate change in the first place.”

Focus on ‘anti-dependence’ industries and business

Watt said the trauma of colonialism, residential schools and dog slaughters in the Canadian Arctic have kept Inuit trapped in an ongoing cycle of dependency.

“What was created in place of the ingenuity of Inuit culture, of being so wise, of knowing what to do at every given moment, is institutions that made us dependent on them,” said Watt-Cloutier, a former international chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council that represents the 160,000 Inuit in Canada, Russia, Alaska and Greenland.

“We lost the ability to think and act for ourselves. As a result of that we are facing the problems we are today.”

She says climate change is accelerating the rapid changes in Inuit society.

Canada’s Changing Climate Report, commissioned by Environment and Climate Change Canada and released earlier this year, found that snow and ice loss, and the resulting increased absorption of solar radiation, is a key factor contributing to Canada warming at twice the global rate.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Arctic is warming at approximately three times the global rate, the report found.

On June 7, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Canada’s national Inuit organization, launched their National Inuit Climate Change Strategy (NICCS), describing global warming’s effect on Arctic communities and the need for Inuit to be included in global conversations on climate policy.

Feature Interview

For more on climate change, Arctic economics and what the world can learn from Inuit culture, listen to Eye on the Arctic’s Feature Interview with Inuit rights activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier:

New businesses models that keep Inuit on the land, provide jobs for youth and maintain Inuit traditions of resiliency and independence, make social and economic sense, Watt-Cloutier told Eye on the Arctic in an interview after her speech.  This could include anything from promoting a conservation economy in the North to undoing the damage from the global anti-sealing campaign.

“These dependency producing institutions is something that needs to be removed and replaced by liberating institutions and businesses,” she said. “That’s what we’re trying to create here and bring back the foundations, the values and the principals of Inuit culture, which is not only good for us, it’s good for the world that is looking for leadership on these issues.

Keeping Inuit on the land as sentinels for climate change is also important for the rest of the world as the global community struggles to adapt to the changrining environment, she said.

“Climate change is often interpreted as only political, economics, science, academics,” she said. “But it’s important to message the world differently. It’s not just about polar bears and ice, this is about the people.  This is about the communities. This about families trying to make it in this new world order of globalization.

“Include Inuit. We don’t need to be saved by you. We need to be included, from the beginning.

“We can contribute not just for ourselves and our own survival, but for all of us on the planet.”

Conference ends June 13

The International Economic Forum of the Americas – Conference of Montreal has taken place annually since 1995. The conference was set up to foster discussions around globalization and the relations of the Americas to the rest of the world.

Conferences are also held annually in Toronto, Miami and Paris.

This year’s Montreal conference had 4,300 participants.

The four-day conference ended June 13.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canadian Inuit organization launches climate change strategy, CBC News

Finland: Finland must further reduce logging to preserve carbon sink, environmental institute says, Yle News

Greenland: Tall ice cliffs are slumping and may trigger rapid sea-level rise, study finds, CBC News

Iceland: Iceland talks Arctic, Trump’s ditching of climate accord, with U.S. Secretary of State, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: June heat wave hits Northern Europe, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Inuit from Alaska, Canada, Greenland & Russia condemn U.S. torpedoing of Arctic Council declaration, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: Comparing emissions taxes for planes and cars, Radio Sweden

United States: U.S. House calls for more research on ocean acidification, Alaska Public Media Network


Categories: Indigenous
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet Netiquette guidelines.

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish or in one of the two official languages, English or French. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


One comment on “Indigenous participation key to Arctic development, Inuit activist tells Economic Forum of the Americas
  1. Avatar Peter Ashcroft says:

    The ‘State of Change is here to stay’ and we must adapt accordingly, especially in the Inuit Region