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Sheila Watt-Cloutier to Receive Honorary Degree from University of Northern British Columbia

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Inuit activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier will receive an honorary degree from the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC).

According to a UNBC press release, honorary degrees are given to those who attain high achievement in public service, the arts, business, politics, environmental stewardship and community development.

UNBC chose her because she is “passionate about the effects of climate change on the people of the Arctic.” Her work as chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council from 2002 to 2005 led to a 2007 Nobel Peace Prize nomination. In 2005, she won the Sophie Prize, an international award of $100,000 for environment and sustainable development. “The Sophie Prize 2005 is awarded to Ms. Watt-Cloutier for her tireless effort to draw the world´s attention to the devastating human effects of climate change and emissions of toxic chemicals,” states the Sophie Prize website.

“Inuit have a deep understanding of the cycles, rhythms, seasons, and natural changes in life,” Watt-Cloutier said when accepting the prize. “Living on the land requires a high level of independence, self-confidence, good judgment, initiative, and skill. In my hunting culture, challenges are very real and immediate, and this remains so today. But the skills and attitudes needed to survive on the land are transferable and highly relevant in the rapidly changing world in which we all now live.”

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Watt-Cloutier will receive her honorary degree during the convocation ceremonies in Prince George on May 27.

In the video above, Sheila Watt-Cloutier spoke with Ken Rockburn in Iqaluit, Alaska in 2010.