Get to know Canada Reads author Sheila Watt-Cloutier
Sheila Watt-Cloutier has been a powerful advocate on behalf of Inuit communities in Canada's Arctic, who are experiencing the detrimental effects of climate change. On Canada Reads 2017, musician Chantal Kreviazuk took up her mantle and advocated for her memoir The Right to Be Cold.
Watch Kreviazuk get to know her author a little better.
What is your favourite word in any language?
I would say, in my own language, it would be mamaqtuq. We say it so often because it means "delicious." And for us, our country food is very huge. We say it very often because we are constantly eating around the table, celebrating our food in some form or another. We connect to the hunter. We connect to our ancestors. And so on. So we say that very often in a day as we share our comfort food.
Is there a word you can't stand?
There's a connotation to "activist," that you're setting yourself apart from others. It's not inclusive at all. It separates people. It separates species. It separates humankind from one another. So that's a word I don't necessarily like to be associated with. Not that I hate it.
What's your worst writing habit?
The funny thing about all of this is that I don't consider myself a writer per se. I had a story to tell and I wanted to share it in a broader sense. I felt writing a book was really important to reach more people and connect to what's happening in the Arctic and to our people.
The toughest part of writing is probably to try to come to a place where I'm really focused; trying to find a place where things can emerge rather than making them up. Finding a place of calm and focus, where the writing is effortless, is a hard place to get to when you're in a busy world and busy life.
Where is your favourite place to visit?
My favourite place to be is in the Arctic. Anywhere in the Arctic.
Not everybody knows that at least once a year, I need to go where my bare feet are touching earth. You can't do that in the Arctic, even in the summer. So I fly somewhere where there's an ocean and I walk on the beach and I float on the ocean. I let go. So I love to go to a hot country for one week a year.
What is the strangest thing you did to research your book?
It wasn't so much a strange thing, but when you start to write and remember, other things start to surface. It's very powerful. You come to realize that all these things are connected, not only to your past, but to where you're being led.