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Transnational Climate Change Mobilisationg: The Impact of the 2005 Inuit Petition

In 2005, Sheila Watt-Cloutier and 62 Inuit elders and hunters from Canada and the United States joined forces with environmental lawyers in the US and submitted a petition before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. In the petition, they argued that the United States of America was violating the human rights of the Inuit through its contribution to global warming. While the Commission refused to hear the petition, the Inuit Petition marked the beginning of a movement which links climate change to human rights.


Our project studies the impact the Inuit Petition has had on the Iqaluit community in Nunavut and internationally. During our field work in Iqaluit in May 2016, we sought to determine (1) whether the Inuit Petition raised awareness about climate change in the community, (2) whether the concept of human rights is used to explain climate change and (3) the place of climate change advocacy in Iqaluit. While the findings from the qualitative interviews collected will be shared at a later date, a preliminary look at the information collected show that most community members either do not remember the Inuit Petition or do not feel that it has had a lasting impact locally. Those involved in the project and those who work on the international stage, however, note the lasting impact the petition has had in terms of the way in which climate change is understood. All participants noted that there are visible changes in the Iqaluit environment. The final analysis of the research and a plain text explanation will be shared in English, French and Inuktitut, once the project as a whole is completed.


Study Site Location: Iqaluit, NU


Local Collaborations:

Nunavut Research Institute, Iqaluit, NU

Unikkaarvik Visitor Centre, Iqaluit, NU

Climate Change Center, Iqaluit, NU


Contact Information

Professor Sebastien Jodoin-Pilon

McGill University, Faculty of Law

514-398-6163 -


Arielle Corobow (field researcher and collaborator)

McGill University, Faculty of Law

514-234-5458 -

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