by Sheila Watt-Cloutier
Watt-Cloutier, an Inuit woman born in Kuujjuaq, Nunavik (formerly Northern Quebec), tells her story of growing up in the Arctic and being raised by her maternal grandmother. At age 10, she is sent to Nova Scotia for further schooling, followed by residential high school in Churchill, Manitoba.
In narrating her story, Watt-Cloutier paints an informative picture of her Inuit community. She relates her memories of family and school life; explains the supportive economic role of the American military stationed at Fort Chimo during WWII, and how the assassination of John F. Kennedy deeply affected the community; and uncovers the little-known truth behind the disappearance of the Inuits’ husky dog teams. After years away at high school, she returns home to work as an assistant at the local health clinic, and later as a school guidance counsellor. Here she observes signs of social breakdown – violence, alcohol and drug abuse, even suicide – and endeavours to set up support systems for Inuit students struggling with such issues.
Watt-Cloutier also shares a number of refreshing insights on such critical matters as global warming, economic development of aboriginal communities, and stewardship of the Arctic. She looks beyond the short-term economic gains from natural resource development, to the long-term effects of climate change. Through her work on climate change (for which she was co-nominated along with Al Gore for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize) as well as through writing this book, Watt-Cloutier has made a significant contribution to the discourse on global warming.
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This book review was first published in The Business Bridge, the eNewsletter of the Central Library Sciences and Business Department. To read the latest book reviews on business and related topics, why not sign up for The Business Bridge, at: http://www.mississauga.ca/portal/residents/librarynewsletters.