Ottawa April 21, 2004

Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC), today thanked the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation particularly its Founding President John Kim Bell, and the selection jury for her 2004 National Aboriginal Achievement Award. The award was presented by Paul Okalik, Premier of Nunavut, at a ceremony in Calgary on April 10.

Ms. Watt-Cloutier also thanked those who nominated her for the award, namely Pita Aatami, President of Makivik Corporation and Johnny Adams, Chairman of the Kativik Regional Government; Jose Kusugak, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami; and Donat Savoie of the federal Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development all of who supported the nomination.

Established in 1977, ICC defends the rights and furthers the interests internationally of Inuit resident in northern Canada, Alaska, Greenland, and Chukotka in the Far East of the Federation of Russia.

Jose Kusugak said of this award:

“With great tenacity and determination, Sheila Watt-Cloutier, from Kuujjuaq in the Nunavik region of northern Quebec, has brought international recognition to the effects the world’s relentless development has had on the Arctic regions. She has fought to obtain international treaties to curtail the spread of persistent organic pollutants to our homeland. As well, the effects of global climate change on our people are having devastating consequences, and this story is also being brought to the world’s attention by Sheila’s efforts.”

In the early 1990s Ms. Watt-Cloutier was Corporate Secretary of Makivik Corporation, the Inuit organization implementing the 1975 James Bay and Northern Quebec land claims agreement. She was elected as President of ICC Canada 1995 and re-elected to this position in 1998. She was then elected Chair of the whole organization in 2002. Also in 2002, Ms. Watt-Cloutier received an inaugural environmental award from the Washington, DC-based World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations for her global work on Environment.

For further information contact:

Sheila Watt-Cloutier, 867-979-4661;
Corinne Gray; 613-563-2642.