ebook, 263 pages.
Read from March 14, 2017 to March 22, 2017.
This is the last book I tackled in the Canada Reads 2017 shortlist. I happy to have all five of the book read and reviewed before the debates take place starting on March 27th. This is the one non-fiction submission in the shortlist and while it was not my favourite book the content of the book is a warning that we should all heed.
Sheila Watt-Cloutier was born in Kuujjuaq, Nunavik to an Inuk mother and a white father. Her book recalls fond memories of country foods included seal, whale and caribou, as well as dog sledding trips, and hunting. She was shortly shipped off to Southern parts of Canada as per government regulations for schooling. As she got older she saw how the environmental and cultural changes were taking a massive toll on the Inuk people. Their whole life was be altered against their will and they were not adapting to the changes well. After failing to become a doctor, Sheila became involved locally and internationally in helping improve the way of life for her people. While not initially meaning to be an environmentalist, it became clear that the biggest problem facing her people was climate change.
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs), from around the world settle and find their way to the coldest points on earth. These pollutants poison animals and contaminate the food the the Inuks eat which inadvertently poisons them. Climate change is a real and is being seen in Arctic first. The Arctic is the world’s air conditioner and if we cannot protect the Arctic than we are all doomed to face the effects of climate change. Sheila’s book is memoir, but it is really more of warning of what is to come if we do not take action. She goes through heartbreaking details of the suffering that her people have had to endure at the selfishness of others and is looking for justice and help, not only for her own people, but to ensure that the rest of the world is protected.
Shelia has been given numerous awards and accolades for her work, including a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 along side Al Gore. For a full list of her awards and honours, click here.
The information in this book is undoubtedly valuable and of extreme importance, however I didn’t sign up to read and poorly delivered essay full of committee meeting details. Portions of the book became tedious with this type of detail and detracted from the important message that Sheila was trying to portray. As an editor, I would have focused on the emotional specifics of Sheila’s upbringing and the outcomes of the current climate situation for the Inuks. While it is important to recognize the extensive councils and impacts that Shelia has had, her novel is bogged down with political nuances that don’t add to her cause.
Is this “the is the one book that Canadians need now?” In terms of the cause, absolutely. This type of issue needs to be laid out for everyone to see. Just because you may not be suffering the effects of climate change at this time, it doesn’t mean that others are not and we need to do our part to get a handle on the climate change situation. However in terms of the readability of this book, I would say no.
I would still recommend this book for anyone that doubts or needs more information about climate change and especially for those who have little understanding of the ways different people live their lives.