Inuit activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier grew up in the northern Canadian territory of Nunavut. Until she was 10, she traveled only by dog sled.

“And so we were very much connected to the ice, the snow, and the cold,” she says.

In her book “The Right to Be Cold,” Watt-Cloutier explains how global warming threatens this traditional lifestyle.

She says hunting and fishing are important parts of Inuit culture. But as Arctic sea ice weakens, hunting for seals and other animals is becoming more dangerous.

“We have loss of lives, in fact, and loss of sleds and snowmobiles through that thinning ice,” Watt-Cloutier says.

She says people have traveled the same routes across the ice for many years to reach good hunting spots. But they now sometimes have to find new paths, which costs time and money.

She says hunting and fishing on the ice is more than a way to get food. It teaches life lessons.

“Developing the patience, the courage, how not to be impulsive, how to develop your sound judgment, and ultimately how to become wise people – you learn that when you’re out there in nature in that cold,” Watt-Cloutier says.

She says her community and the world are losing a vital source of wisdom as the Arctic melts.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Daisy Simmons

Daisy Simmons is a freelance writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience in research-driven storytelling. In addition to contributing to Yale Climate Connections since early 2016, she also...