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Penguin to publish Sheila Watt-Cloutier memoir

Canadian Inuit activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier has been awarded the Order of Canada and, in 2007, was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize (the Nobel eventually went to former U.S. vice-president turned environmental activist Al Gore). She talked about climate change as a human rights issue long before most people felt comfortable using such language, and spearheaded a 2005 legal petition against the U.S., claiming that their contribution to climate change infringed on the human rights of Northern Canadians. In 2010, The Globe and Mail named her one of 25 Transformational Canadians.

Today, Penguin Canada announced that associate publisher Nick Garrison has acquired rights to Watt-Cloutier’s upcoming book, The Right to Be Cold, which Penguin intends to publish under its prestige non-fiction imprint, Allen Lane Canada, in fall 2013. The memoir tells Watt-Cloutier’s story, beginning in the community of Kuujjuaq, Quebec, and culminating in her current position as one of the world’s most respected advocates for Inuit culture and the preservation of the Arctic.

In a press release, Garrison says that Penguin “jumped at the chance” to publish Watt-Cloutier’s book. “What struck us all was the irresistible originality of her understanding of the way we are affecting the planet. The very best non-fiction answers questions you didn’t even know you have been asking.”

The press release goes on to quote Watt-Cloutier herself: “As our beloved Arctic is plundered for the riches that lie beneath the melting ice, the need to awaken the world to these critical issues has never been more important…. Writing The Right to Be Cold is also my way of giving back to the people and the culture that has served not only as my grounding foundation but also as the very anchor of my spirit as I was propelled out into the challenging world of international politics.”

Penguin Canada won the rights to the book in competition with several other publishers; Rick Broadhead negotiated the deal.