2015 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing Finalist

The Right to Be Cold: One Woman’s Story of Protecting Her Culture, the Arctic, and the Whole Planet

Sheila Watt-Cloutier 
The Right to Be Cold: One Woman’s Story of Protecting Her Culture, the Arctic, and the Whole Planet
Allen Lane

Sheila Watt-Cloutier

Jury Citation

Inuit culture and life is inextricably linked to ice, snow, and cold, and environmental change is an existential threat. In this intense and revealing memoir, Sheila Watt-Cloutier situates us in her Inuit culture, along with the challenges and joys of her youth. It was no easy thing to hold fast to the old ways in a century of modernization. But the more recent impact of environmental change has been fundamentally different, threatening a way of life and a people. Watt-Cloutier shows us how neglected voices can be heard and how non-governmental organizations can affect change, all within the delicate interplay between North and South, indigenous and settler societies, and development and sustainability.

About the Book

Sheila Watt-Cloutier rose from humble beginnings in the Arctic community of Kuujjuaq, Quebec—where she was raised by a single parent and grandmother and travelled by dog team in a traditional, ice-based Inuit hunting culture—to become one of the most influential and decorated environmental, cultural, and human rights advocates in the world. In The Right to Be Cold she tells her personal story and explores the parallels between safeguarding the Arctic and the survival of Inuit culture in the face of environmental degradation. Watt-Cloutier passionately argues that climate change is a human rights issue and one to which all of us on the planet are inextricably linked. Read an excerpt.

About the Author

Sheila Watt-Cloutier is an environmental and human rights activist. In 2007, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy work in showing the impact global climate change has on human rights. She is a recipient of the Aboriginal Achievement Award, the UN Champion of the Earth Award, and the Norwegian Sophie Prize. She is also an Officer of the Order of Canada and past international chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council. The Right to Be Cold was a finalist for the BC National Award for Canadian Non-fiction. Watt-Cloutier lives in Iqaluit.




Woodcock Fund



Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing


September 19 for books published between June 20 and September 18, 2018


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