Canada Reads Shortlist: The Right to be Cold by Sheila Watt-Cloutier

February 26, 2017     The Bluestocking Bookworm     Books, Reading

 The Right to be Cold by Sheila Watt-Cloutier
368 pages
Published: March 21, 2016 by Penguin Canada

About the Book: The Arctic ice is receding each year, but just as irreplaceable is the culture, the wisdom that has allowed the Inuit to thrive in the Far North for so long. And it’s not just the Arctic. The whole world is changing in dangerous, unpredictable ways. Sheila Watt-Cloutier has devoted her life to protecting what is threatened and nurturing what has been wounded. In this culmination of Watt-Cloutier’s regional, national, and international work over the last twenty-five years, The Right to Be Cold explores the parallels between safeguarding the Arctic and the survival of Inuit culture, of which her own background is such an extraordinary example. This is a human story of resilience, commitment, and survival told from the unique vantage point of an Inuk woman who, in spite of many obstacles, rose from humble beginnings in the Arctic to become one of the most influential and decorated environmental, cultural, and human rights advocates in the world.

About the Author: The former head of the international Inuit Circumpolar Council and nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, author and activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier chronicles the impact climate change has had on northern communities and makes the case that this environmental crisis is indeed a human rights issue. Weaving together environmental, cultural and economic issues, Watt-Cloutier makes a passionate and personal plea for change.

About the defense – Chantal Kreviazuk: Since releasing her platinum-selling debut album Under these Rocks and Stones in 1997, Chantal Kreviazuk has become one of Canada’s most beloved artists. Her rise to fame was solidified in 1998 when international audiences heard the Winnipeg native’s now-iconic rendition of “Leaving on a Jet Plane” on the Armageddon soundtrack. After a string of distinguished albums, Chantal spent the past several years raising her three sons while simultaneously collaborating with superstars such as Drake, Pitbull, Christina Aguilera, Carrie Underwood, Kendrick Lamar and Pink. In 2012, Chantal was part of the CBC project Who Do You Think You Are?, which helped her trace her First Nations ancestry (her great-grandmother was Métis). She was appointed a member of the Order of Canada in 2014. In the summer of 2016, the Juno Award winner released the much-anticipated Hard Sail, her first album in seven years.

Why Chantal Kreviazuk thinks The Right to be Cold is the book Canadians need now: It’s exactly what the theme of Canada Reads is this year. It’s about the urgency that the climate is presenting to us, that the Earth is begging us to listen. Sheila shows us that each individual is not only directly connected to the planet and its manifestations, but is also important in the whole scheme of things.

My initial thoughts: As the longest book on this year’s shortlist, and the only nonfiction book, this is possibly the most daunting for me. I don’t read a lot of nonfiction, and when I do it is something that I choose because the subject matter interests me. The subject matter of The Right to be Cold is definitely interesting, especially the connection between environmental and human rights issues, but I don’t know if I would have ever picked up this book on my own without Canada Reads. But that is part of the fun of Canada Reads, isn’t it? Reading outside your comfort zone!

*With information from and

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