Native People and the Seal Hunt
Category : Uncategorized
Well, it’s that time of year again. The Canadian Seal Hunt starts in about a month and a half. I refer, of course, to the annual slaughter of about 300,000 baby harp seals.
I think that a lot of the people who actually support the Canadian Seal Hunt are understandably confused by the concept that it is, at least in part, a sustainable native hunt.
It is not, not even remotely.
The species targeted during the hunt are baby HARP seals (and occasionally hooded seals), most of them between 12 days and 3 months old. (Yes, it is still legal to hunt baby seals, despite what the government might tell us. They have only made it illegal to kill pups 11 days and younger!) About 325,000 are killed every March and April. Native people, on the other hand, prefer to hunt adult RING seals. They kill just 10,000 per year, and they actually HUNT them. To quote Arnaituk M. Tarkirk, an Inuit man from Kuujjuak, Quebec:
“We are skillful hunters who hunt adult animals for food, That is not the same as bashing a pup, which can’t move, over the head.”
He even goes so far as to hypothesize that the end of the Canadian Seal Hunt would actually BENEFIT the native population:
“There would be 180,000 more seals left for us to eat when they are a few years older, and also people would not have such an aversion to sealskin products as they have after seeing the way they kill the pups, so craft work made with adult seals would be more popular.” (source)
Meanwhile, NativeRadio.com has also come out against the seal hunt:
“There is a difference in an indigenous culture’s right to hunt for food and economic survival, and the non-indigenous Newfoundlander’s massive slaughter of defenseless animals for profit and vanity!” (source)
The Canadian government, of course, doesn’t care. They just want the seal hunt to continue, but the work of activists for the past few decades has made it basically a pariah in the global community. To counter this, they had to come up with a scheme to appeal to “a poorly informed and emotional public”. Yes, they actually said that. More specifically, Brian Roberts, a senior advisor to the Canadian Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, said that, in a speech. He also said:
“The first step was to neutralize the appeal of the animal protection lobby. To accomplish this it was necessary to mount an equally emotionally powerful counter-appeal…based on the survival needs of aboriginal communities which depended upon the continuing taking of fur-bearing animals.” (source)
I am not native myself, but I find it disgusting and exploitative that the Canadian government, which on the whole has been totally dismissive in regards to the concerns of aboriginal people, is now claiming to be their champion.
If you want to read some of the most frequently asked questions in regards to the seal hunt (what happens to the meat? what about the cod?) check them out here: http://liberationbc.org/issues/seal_hunt