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How the Animal Activism is Impacting the Inuit Sealing Hunt

How the Animal Activism is Impacting the Inuit Sealing Hunt

Photo Courtesy of Charles Dharapak

By Katarina Ziervogel


In the light of global warming and the environment on the decline, international citizens are being called to action to make the change in their daily lifestyle in order to make an effective change for Mother Earth. One of these calls to action is the removal of meat-eating in their dietary plan — one of the elements of animal rights activism.

An Indigenous-owned and operated restaurant, Kū-kŭm Kitchen in Toronto has been gaining a fair amount of controversy by animal rights activists due to the seal meat inside two dishes on the menu. This highlights an uneasy, strained relationship between Indigenous communities and animal rights activists due to the Inuit People’s long-time struggles and frustration with the hardship of their economy to keep afloat because of the seal hunting ban and its anti-sealing campaigns, organizations, and groups.

The Inuit communities believe that anti-sealing campaigns by animal rights organizations such as PETA does more harm than good. For instance, PETA spreads misinformation about the seal hunting industry such as how the white seal pups are being hunted and clubbed to death when in the reality, the Inuit communities do not hunt white seal pups, only adult harp seals and they’re often being hunted as humanely as possible. And they only harvest what they need, which plays a significant role in their culture because unlike any meat-based companies, the seal products don’t go to waste. Every part of the seal harvesting process is being done with respect and in the most humane way as possible.

But with the animal rights activism and the veganism continuing to rise, the sealing hunt industry is declining and becoming undoubtedly difficult for Inuit communities as it plays a significant role in their culture, food, and main income. After the anti-sealing ban went into effect, the Northwest Territories’ unemployment rate is at its highest in the entire country and unfortunately, it has the highest suicide rates in the entire world¹. 

Apart from the Inuit’s’ sealing hunting industry, the commercial seal hunt is far more different as it does not share the same hunting practices such as cultural values and poses no significant role in their Inuit communities. The commercial seal hunt actually makes up about 97% of seals being killed in Canada and they’re only being killed for profit². But unfortunately, the anti-seal campaigns fail to share this kind of information and therefore hurts the Inuit’s sealing hunt industry.

Very few people outside of Northern Canada actually recognizes how significant the seals are to the Inuit communities and their own economy. 

To learn more about the Inuit’s sealing hunt, and how important it is to the community– you can watch an award-winning documentary film, Angry Inuk by Alethea Arnaquq-Baril as they aim to challenge the long-established perceptions of sealing hunt and present themselves to the world as a modern people in dire need of a sustainable economy.

https://www.nfb.ca/film/angry_inuk/

Sources:

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/2017/nov/01/animal-rights-activists-inuit-clash-canada-indigenous-food-traditions
  2. https://www.ifaw.org/international/news/differences-between-inuit-canada%E2%80%99s-east-coast-seal-hunts