Saturday, March 29, 2008

Clarifications

I had received a pretty ignorant comment from a reader that to me summed up the attitude of the anti-sealing crowd. This prompted me to write up my little piece of sarcasm the other day. Now, normally I publish all comments readers send in. However, I refuse to publish comments with profanity. My blog, my rules. I realize that I won't sway the anti-sealing crowd with my arguements. However, I have my opinion and I have a right to speak it.

I think it is important to distinguish between the East Coast commercial hunt and the subsistence hunt that takes place here in Nunavut. Anti-sealers fail to do this. Here, the entire seal is used. Seal fur is used to make clothing (mitts, boots, and coats) I have seen a few seal fur coats in my time here. My assistant Principal has an absolutely gorgeous one that she made herself.

The anti-sealing crowd would have us believe that it is only baby seals that are killed. However, I have lived here for 5 years and have never seen a single one (dead or alive). Most of these people don't seem to appreciate the cultural significance of seals here. Heather Mills said on CNN that no one eats seals for crying out loud. I'm still laughing over that one. Guess what Heather? I eat seals, my neighbours eat seals, my students eat seals, our mayor eats seals etc. So much for that arguement then.

Yes, but according to anti-seal activists the sea ice is just awash in seal carcasses. Oh really? I look out on the bay here in town and let's see.........well there are a few dog teams out there along with their attendent ravens as well as a few qamutiik and skidoos. No bloody seal carcasses to be seen.

So you might ask, why do I even care? Afterall, in many ways I am still an outsider. Well, the actions of these people can sway governments. The actions of Brigitte Bardot led to many European nations (Germany, France, Belgium etc.) banning the import of Canadian seal products. This has a significant impact on the economy here, especially in smaller communities. There are no economies of scale here other than government employment. These actions of a few attention-seekers serve to deprive Inuit hunters of much needed income. Seal hunting provides vital employment in my community. I see the results of unemployment and under-employment on a daily basis in the form of young students at my school. This is the reality I face every day. Protesters, who are predominantly urbanites do not have to deal with this. They are insulated from this reality. Furthermore, I am tired of these people pushing their views on people. That is why I care so strongly about this issue.

I recall once seeing a news story in which a protester was confronted with the notion that there are people on this planet that make a livelihood through subsistence hunting. His response was incredibly naive. He basically said they should buy food at stores. He said something to the effect that "If they can put oranges on a plane and fly them out to California, they can fly them up to these people too." Yeah buddy, oranges. Now, I'm not sure what you pay for them in California but the last time I bought oranges, I paid $8.99........for 6. These people like to put on an air of superiority but they seriously have absolutely no idea of the human consequences of their actions.

4 comments:

Rob, Tina and the boys said...

Boy, I miss a few days reading and miss this! I am with you whole heartedly on this one. I just rolled my eyes when I saw the paper the other day with these groups following the sealers. Being from NL, this really hits home for me. People really need to stop and think about what they are saying before they get on these crazy bandwagons. I'm with Jen. Save a cow, eat a seal. :)

jen said...

I think there is nothing wrong with how seals are killed up here, shot, ate and worn. But I think I would still like to know why and how the hunt goes on out east? I guess they don't eat the meat? I watched a few get clubbed on you tube, I can definately see why these people are upset. I think that gives a bad impression to those up here who are killing seals a lot more humanely.

They should send the moron who made the orange comment out on the land for a couple of days.

Way Way Up said...

Thanks for your comment Jen. Admittedly, I am not as familiar with the East Coast hunt as I am with the one here in Nunavut but I will give it a shot.

Seals were hunted in Newfoundland for much the same reason as cod were fished - it was a valued economic resource for Newfoundlanders and there was European demand. The first annually recorded seal hunt in Newfoundland was in 1723. By the late 1800's the seal hunt began to rival the cod fishery as the economic engine of the province. Seal meat is also consummer in Newfoundland, particularly up on the Northern Penninsula, according to my housemate.

The seal hunt takes place from November to May of each year. It is only during the hunt's peak time in early April that all the yahoos from Greenpeace seem to show up. One could easily get the impression that the entire seal quota for the year is taken in one large orgy of hunting in early April when the actual hunt happens over a longer time period.

The image of the baby seal is used by protesters because it tugs at people's heart strings. The iconic image of the baby is seal has proven very effective. Witness Belgium, whose Parliament passed an all-out ban on Canadian seal products in early 2007.

The uninformed have the idea that Canadian sealers "slaughter" millions of helpless baby seals. In reality, the Canadian government made the harvesting of whitecoats illegal in 1987. Furthermore, according to a 2005 Macleans' magazine article I use for my Northern Studies class, Canadian veternarians in 2005 determined that 98% of seals were harvested in an internationally accepted humane manner.

Granted this doesn't mean that there aren't a few irresponsible hunters out and about. When video of their actions comes to light, it gives great fodder to animal rights activists and this is used to slander and smear all sealers as products of the same mold.

As a small-town Ontario boy it wouldn't surprise me one bit to hear that a greater number of raccoons, skunks, beavers, housecats etc. are smashed to pulp on Highway 7 than the number of baby seals killed in the East Coast hunt.

jen said...

Thanks for the info! lol roadkill, you are right, no one is doing anything about those raccoons, and I have seen them on the side of the road by the thousands.