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Meet Indigenous Rights Activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier: #SUSTXGLOBAL50 2022 Awardee

The SustainabilityX® Magazine Global 50 Women In Sustainability Awards 2022: #RedefiningPower - Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Author, Speaker & Activist, Canada

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"Women in leadership during these precarious times is imperative for changing the narrative around these important issues that affect us on the ground which helps to humanize the issues. When women lead, they change the stories from only politics, science and economics to relatable stories of health and well being, families and communities." - Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Author, Speaker & Activist

Sheila Watt-Cloutier was born in Kuujjuaq, Nunavik (northern Quebec), and was raised traditionally in her early years before attending school in southern Canada and in Churchill, Manitoba. She is the past Chair of Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), the organization that represents internationally the 155,000 Inuit of Canada, Greenland, Alaska, and Chukotka in the Far East of the Federation of Russia.

Ms. Watt-Cloutier was an elected political spokesperson for Inuit for over a decade. From 1995 to 1998, she was Corporate Secretary of Makivik Corporation, set-up under the 1975 James Bay and Northern Quebec Land Claims Agreement. Defending the rights of Inuit has been at the forefront of Ms. Watt-Cloutier’s mandate since her election as President of ICC Canada in 1995 and re‑election in 1998. Ms. Watt-Cloutier was instrumental as a spokesperson for a coalition of northern Indigenous Peoples in the global negotiations that led to the 2001 Stockholm Convention banning the generation and use of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that contaminate the arctic food web. In 2002, Ms. Watt-Cloutier was elected international Chair of ICC. She contributed markedly to ICC Canada's Institution-Building for Northern Russian Indigenous Peoples' Project, which focused on economic development and training in remote northern communities.

On behalf of ICC Canada, Ms. Watt-Cloutier received the inaugural Global Environment Award from the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations in recognition for her POPs work. She is the recipient of the 2004 Aboriginal Achievement Award for Environment. In 2005, she was honored with the United Nations Champion of the Earth Award and the Sophie prize in Norway. Later in the year, she was presented with the inaugural Northern Medal by the outgoing Governor General of Canada, Adrienne Clarkson.

In addition to receiving multiple global awards, Sheila was made an Officer in the Order of Canada in December 2006, and has since been recognized with honourary doctorates from over a dozen universities. In November 2015, she was one of four Laureates awarded the ‘Right Livelihood Award’ considered the Alternate Nobel Peace Prize which was presented in the Parliament of Sweden. In 2017 she received the Climate Change Award from the Prince Albert of Monaco Foundation.

The SustainabilityX® Magazine had the honour to learn more about her thoughts on women in sustainability and the current state of women in leadership helping lead the much-needed sustainability transition. Here's what she had to say:

Q: What is the importance of women's leadership in today's society plagued by the triple crises of COVID, Climate, and Conflict, and their deadly consequences?

Women in leadership during these precarious times is imperative for changing the narrative around these important issues that affect us on the ground which helps to humanize the issues. When woman lead, they change the stories from only politics, science and economics to relatable stories of health and well being, families and communities.

Q: What role do you believe women in leadership positions have to play in helping companies and brands transition towards sustainability and circularity, and why is this important?

The moment women enter into these leadership roles, I believe the shift happens immediately with the priorities they give as protectors for the future of families. I believe most women want to give back to the world, through her work, a new way forward that keeps children, women and families safer. Issues which have been categorized as ‘women issues’ such as health, education and culture to name a few come to the forefront of their leadership role

Q: What can be done to improve women’s participation in corporate and leadership positions? How do we achieve this?

I think many women tend to not participate in the Corporate world because of the ‘culture’ of these corporations as many have had extremely bad experiences within these institutions. The systems themselves need to take a hard look at themselves to create safe and respectful spaces in order for more women to be interested in taking part. I believe there are shifts happening in changing the Corporate world but we still have a long way to go. Women don’t want to just ‘administer’ or ‘manage’ what exists in these systems, they want to change how things are done.

Q: What does this award mean to you and what significance does it hold to you personally and/or professionally, and your company?

This Award helps me to bring my story and the collective story of our people, the Inuit/Arctic world to a larger audience. I always see any recognition for my life’s work, not only about me the personality, but about the resonance of truth with others for what I consider to be sacred work. In other words, it is about the world ‘getting it’ and not only about me ‘getting' an award. It is very meaningful in my attempt to guide the world to a more sustainable way of life, by showing how the Inuit world, the Indigenous world can be teachers of sustainability and not just victims to globalization. We have much to offer in our teachings.


The SustainabilityX® Magazine Global 50 Women In Sustainability Awards 2022

The SustainabilityX® Magazine proudly announced the release of The SustainabilityX® Magazine’s inaugural Global 50 Women In Sustainability Awards™ 2022 on Oct 4th, 2022, an inaugural annual list celebrating the powerful work of women in sustainability leadership around the world.

The non-profit digital magazine’s Global 50 Women In Sustainability Awards™ high-level, invite-only program graciously sponsored by the award-winning Canadian construction and engineering firm Belnor Engineering Inc., recognizes achievements of the world’s powerful, groundbreaking female sustainability leaders who’re bridging the gender gap by breaking barriers, shattering traditional stereotypes, and taking the world of sustainability by storm. This campaign is in line with the magazine’s third pillar of sustainability upon which SustainabilityX® is based: social inclusion, which involves marginalized populations and vulnerable communities such as women, persons with disabilities, unemployed youth, LGBTQ+, the elderly, and BIPOC minorities.

“As both a female and one of Canada’s Top 30 Under 30 In Sustainability Leadership myself, I know how important this is,” says Supriya Verma, founder of The SustainabilityX® Magazine. “The number of women in positions of leadership – from business to politics – are relatively few. With society plagued by the triple crises of COVID, climate, conflict, and their deadly consequences, how can the world advance and achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals without having women in decision-making positions at major organizations, political parties, and academic institutions?”

In The SustainabilityX® Magazine’s quest to ‘redefine power’, this is the first international power-list bringing together women around the world involved in sustainability celebrating the power of their work – not their position. This list brings together a diverse group of accomplished women across business, entertainment, academia, law, politics, and beyond ranging from some of the world's leading companies, to independent unsung heroes with one thing in common: using their power with purpose –the power to create change and influence lives to make the world a better place. After all, that's what sustainability is all about. The meaning, or ‘the power’ of one’s work matters, not one’s position in a corporate hierarchy, particularly during this crucial era.


About The SustainabilityX® Magazine

The SustainabilityX® Magazine is an award-winning, digital, female-founded, and female-led non-profit initiative bringing the environment and economy together for a sustainable future through dialogue. Founded on May 8, 2016 and inspired by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by Canada’s Top 30 Under 30 in Sustainability Leadership awardee, Supriya Verma, the digital media initiative focuses on approaching the world’s most pressing challenges with a holistic, integrated, systems-based perspective as opposed to the traditional and ineffective siloed approach with a single lens on interdisciplinary topics like climate and energy. This initiative ultimately seeks to explore how to effectively bring the environment and economy together through intellectual, insightful dialogue and thought-provoking discussion amongst individuals across sectors taking an interdisciplinary and integrated approach to untangling the intricate web of sustainability.

The SustainabilityX® Magazine is based upon the four pillars of sustainability: Environmental Stewardship which emphasizes improved environmental health, Economic Prosperity which emphasizes economic growth without the element of capitalism, Social Inclusion which emphasizes EDI for BIPOC and LGBTQ communities and marginalized, vulnerable populations, and Just Governance which emphasizes the equal rule of law via responsible political leadership to create fair systems for all. Identifying the diverse factors involved in sustainability, how they interact and how the disciplines are interconnected will help accelerate local, national, and international sustainability goals – in simpler words, aligning with The SustainabilityX® Magazine’s mission of bringing the environment and economy together for a sustainable future through dialogue for a sustainable future. Whether you have a background in science, engineering, business, law, politics, media and entertainment, or beyond, your voice matters.

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The SustainabilityX® Magazine is a proud member of the Sustainable Journalism Partnership, serves as a cause-based media partner for various events such as Circular City Week New York, and officially delivers remarks at international conferences such as UNESCO’s annual World Press Freedom Day Conference. SustainabilityX® is a brand of the non-profit social business SPSX Group.



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