Sheila Watt-Cloutier is originally from Kuujjuaq, Nunavik – in Northern Quebec – but currently lives in Iqaluit, Nunavut. From 1995 to 2002, she was Canadian President of the Inuit Circumpolar Council which represents more than 155,000 Inuit living in Canada, the United States, Greenland and Russia. As Canadian President, Watt-Cloutier helped negotiate the Stockholm Convention, a breakthrough global treaty which resulted in the banning of “persistent organic pollutants” ( POPs) which contaminate the Arctic food chain.
In 2002, Watt-Cloutier was elected International Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, a position she held until 2006.
From 1995 to 1998, she was also Corporate Secretary of Makivik Corporation, set up under the 1975 James Bay and Northern Quebec Land Claims Agreement.
In 2005, along with 62 Inuit hunters, women and elders, Watt-Cloutier filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. They alleged that unchecked greenhouse gases from the United States violated Inuit human rights as guaranteed by the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. It was a landmark case – the world`s first international legal action on climate change. In March, 2007, Watt-Cloutier testified before the Commission during its extraordinary first hearing on the links between climate change and human rights.
An Officer of the Order of Canada, Sheila Watt-Cloutier is a recipient of a UN Lifetime Achievement Award for Human Development and a UN Champion of the Earth Award. She has also been honoured with the Global Green USA Award for International Environmental Leadership; the Northern Medal, given by the Governor General of Canada; the inaugural Global Environmental Award from the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations; and an Aboriginal Achievement Award for Environment. She has won two international environmental awards: the Sophie Prize worth $100,000 and the Rachel Carson Prize, established in 1991 to award efforts in the spirit of environmentalist Rachel Carson.