Culture is our Medicine: Siila Watt-Cloutier on Human Trauma and Climate Trauma

Nine key takeaways from an online talk by acclaimed Inuit advocate Siila Watt-Cloutier on May 23, 2024, hosted by SeeChange Initiative, the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research and the Centre for Indigenous Knowledges and Languages at York University.

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Published on
Jun 20, 2024
“Indigenous knowledge and wisdom is the medicine the world seeks in the larger scale to address their issues of sustainability. And if we could be made not to just be victims of commercialization, globalization, environmental degradation and climate change - we can become the teachers of that.- Siila Watt-Cloutier

1. Climate change and environmental degradation in the Arctic are alarming, and exacerbate existing challenges for Inuit 

2. Climate change is a human rights issue. Defending the rights of the Inuit and protecting the ice, land, and wildlife is defending the rights and well-being of all peoples, species, and ecosystems

3. Inuit rapidly adapted to climate and culture change and play a critical role in environmental and human rights protection, climate adaptation knowledge, and policy change

4. Understanding the historical traumas and colonization the Inuit faced is essential in climate action, environmental and justice work. For Inuit and Indigenous peoples to have full freedom, autonomy and resourcefulness, it is imperative to acknowledge and address the root causes of harm affecting them.

5. Inuit are more than their traumas: The values and principles of Inuit culture, the holistic way of Inuit teaching and their wisdom, resourcefulness, and resilience can provide solutions, for the community and globally. 

6. We need to humanize climate and environmental issues. In many climate negotiations, the ‘heartbeat’ is missing.

7. We need to create a new narrative. By making changes within ourselves, we can make changes locally and globally

8. Youth plays a key role. Building back the spirit of the Inuit youth can build back resourcefulness of Inuit communities who can take the lead on issues that need to be  addressed locally and globally 

9. It is imperative to work with civil society on climate, environmental, health and human rights work - everything and everybody is interconnected

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