Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Right to be Cold by Sheila Watt Cloutier

The Right To Be Cold: One Woman's Story of Protecting Her Culture, the Arctic and the Whole Planet

My second read for 2017 is The Right to be Cold by Sheila Watt-Cloutier. I actually started reading it Christmas Eve, but didn't finish it until January 8. I read an ebook version on the OverDrive app.

I heard about this book from the Canada Read 2017 longlist. I didn't realize that it was non-fiction, really a memoir, when I started it, but it didn't take long to figure that out.

I took loads of notes while reading this. Loads. I learned a lot, and I'm left with a lot to think about.

The first quote I took was from the introduction:
To live in a boundless landscape and a close-knit culture in which everything matters and everything is connected is a kind of magic.
In the book Sheila explains a little about the magic of their way of life, until others came into the picture and things changed.

The following quote, also from the introduction, is the most succinct statement about the changes:
...while many of the changes are positive, the journey into the modern world was not an easy one - and it has let it's scars.
Sheila shares about how these changes affected her family. So many different factors that affected them in so many different ways.

Another quote from the introduction sums up another prominent topic in the book:
The land that is such an important part of our spirit, our culture, and our physical and economical well being is becoming a precarious place for us.
Sheila shares information about the roles she played in different organizations to help make people aware of the affects of global warming and climate change on the Arctic and trying to come up with plans to help protect it.

The following quote sums up the history and present day struggles of the Inuit in the Arctic:

Missionaries, fur traders and governments had fought over the Arctic for decades to further their own self-interest: converting us to their religion, pressuring us to build their trade or using us to establish their sovereignty. In the  process, our well-being and our way of life were sacrificed. Here again, scientists, consultants and lawyers were busy pushing forward their own agenda.

While I did find the book a bit tedious at times with all the detail and all the acronyms of all the different organization, I also found it interesting and informative. There are many more quotes I'd love to share, but I'll leave it at that for now.

I would love to see this as one of the books on the short list for Canada Reads this year because I'd love to hear some discussion about it.  I guess we'll have to wait and see if it makes it or not.

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