From: Associated Press
Published June 16, 2005 12:00 AM

Canadian Inuit Leader Accepts Sophie Environment Prize at Oslo Ceremony

OSLO — Canadian Inuit leader Sheila Watt-Cloutier accepted the 2005 Sophie environment prize Wednesday for drawing attention to the impact of climate change and pollution on the traditional lifestyles of the Arctic's indigenous people and others.


"Global warming and environmental destruction threaten to wipe out Arctic people's lifestyle and culture," she said in accepting the prize.


The US$100,000 (euro82,600) prize was created in 1997 by Norwegian author Jostein Gaarder and his wife, Siri Dannevig. It is named after Gaarder's book "Sophie's World," a surprise international best-selling novel based on philosophy for young people. The prize is intended to foster environmental and sustainable development efforts.


The Oslo-based awards committee praised the 51-year-old Inuit leader for making the world aware of the impact of the environment on her people's human rights and for "giving a human face to the effects of climate change."


Watt-Cloutier was born in Nunavik, northern Quebec, and raised in a traditional Inuit family. She has been the chairwoman of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference for the past decade. The organization, founded in 1997, represents about 155,000 Inuit in Canada, the United States, Greenland and Russia.


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The annual prize was presented by Norwegian Environment Minister Knut Arild Hareide.


Last year's prize went to Kenyan Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement in Africa. She went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo later in the year.


Source: Associated Press


Related link:
Inuit to File Anti-U.S. Climate Petition


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