Da Legal Stuff...

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

We Want Your Mind, Not Your Money

The following commentary appeared in Today’s Globe and Mail. Portions are being republished here because the author, Mary Simon, speaks far more eloquently about the impact of anti-seal activism than I could ever hope to.

Her words, though focused on the impact to Inuit culture, reflect issues and concerns that I’m sure many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can identify with.

It looks like, when not publishing a commentary about Newfoundland and Labrador itself, even the Globe and Mail can sometimes get it right.

Globe and Mail
March 11, 2009 at 12:00 AM EDT

Sunday will mark another annual day of protest against the Canadian East Coast seal hunt. In various countries, anti-sealing protesters will urge their governments to ban the seal hunt and the import of seal products.

This year, protesters will no doubt take satisfaction in knowing that Belgium and the Netherlands have already defied world trade laws to ban the import of seal products and that the European Union Parliament is being pressed to do the same. Last week, an EU commission voted to amend the proposed legislation so it would, in effect, be a total ban on the import of seal products…

While the target of animal-rights protesters is the seasonal killing of seals by commercial fishermen on the ice floes around Newfoundland and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the impact of the protests threatens, once again, to have painful consequences on Inuit communities scattered throughout the Canadian Arctic. Inuit in Greenland will also feel the pain.

Inuit are a maritime people. The sea and sea ice are our front yard. They are as much a part of our way of life as the family farm has been for the agrarian societies of this world. For most of us, the most important and reliable food since our arrival in the Arctic in ancient times has been the seal. We have hunted seals to sustain life itself in a world that is as harsh as it is beautiful.

We have harvested seals to feed ourselves, our children, our elders and the rest of our people in the Arctic. We have used seals to feed the dog teams that help us to hunt. We have used the pelts of seals to clothe ourselves and, in more recent times, to generate a modest level of cash from sales to the outside world. That flow of cash might not look like much to those who plan the EU's operating budget or who take in millions of dollars from members of the public through anti-sealing campaigns. But, for Inuit hunters, it often makes the difference…

For Inuit, hunting is not just about feeding families. It is also about sustaining our unique language and culture in a world that has all too often maligned or devalued them. The teaching of hunting skills from one generation to another is a way we build solidarity between generations and within families. The sharing of country food among households in communities is a way in which we show compassion…

For younger Inuit, such campaigns seem to be exercises in highly selective and culturally bound sensitivities: It is okay for those who live in rich Western, urban societies to do things that have generated enormous hardships and insult for an indigenous hunting people, while very little self-examination is invested into the conditions of domestic animals processed in highly industrialized fashion for big city supermarkets. It is doubtful that a wild seal living in the Arctic would envy the life prospects of a factory-raised chicken.

Some animal-rights groups, like some governments and legislators in Europe, have been quick to say that their anti-sealing efforts are not aimed at the seal-hunting activities of Inuit, and that seal furs resulting from Inuit hunting should be exempt from such things as import bans. It is hard for Inuit to take any comfort in these promises.

These assurances are issued in what appears to be willful ignorance that past anti-sealing activities have destroyed the markets for all seal pelts, whether taken by Inuit or others. They are issued without the prospect of any plausible machinery, methods or communications efforts that would somehow allow Inuit to continue to support themselves and our way of life in the Arctic with a measure of security. No, these assurances are all about salving troubled consciences, not offering respect and reasonable accommodation.

So, for those who will be joining in Sunday's anti-sealing protests, either directly or by sending money to animal-rights groups, the Inuit of Canada invite you to reconsider. Before investing your time, your money and your goodwill in such efforts, perhaps you might first satisfy yourself whether the groups organizing these protests have made any real effort to understand the Inuit way of life, or to take any real steps to avoid inflicting harm on us. Inuit are not seeking your donations. Rather, we ask Canadians to think through this issue, a more difficult but ultimately more enriching path for all of us.

Mary Simon, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, is a former Canadian ambassador for circumpolar affairs and a former ambassador to Denmark.


Anonymous said...

I want to comment on the statement which is contained in the piece above:

"Inuit are a maritime people. The sea and sea ice are our front yard. They are as much a part of our way of life as the family farm has been for the agrarian societies of this world".

The sea ice is the farm for the Inuit, no different than the prairies are the arable lands to accomodate farming for those, who grow wheat, vegetables and fruit. Why can't the connection be easily made there?

Well the connection has nothing to do with reasoning people, it has all to do with the love of money and greed,no matter how it interferes and impacts on the right of the Inuit people to make a living.

Those so called animal rights people care no more about the seal than they do about rats.

The only thing that they care about is that the cute little seal is the only animal which can bring in Hundreds of Millions of dollars to their coffers every year and they exploit the seal's appearance to the hilt for that reason.

By the way Paul Watson, said himself, in the 1970s when he was jockeying for the job of former Animal Rights Group spokeperson, Brian Davies, that the only animal which could serve the purpose of bringing in millions and millions of dollars to that group's coffers was the seal. Mr. Watson specifically said that the seal has an omnipresent tear in its eyes, which gives it the appearance that it is crying. A very good attribute to be utilized to tear at the heartstring of potential donors, to get them to donate.

By the way nature's way of protecting the seal's eyes from freezing was through the insertion of an omnipresent tear within the biological structure of the seal. It was NOT put there to assist the beggers to bring in Hundreds of Millions of dollars to the coffers of those pseudo-Animals Rights playboys to live high off the hog.

These people were the forerunners of the greedy people who just brought the World's economy down to its knees.

They found a way to bilk the unsuspecting public out of their hard earned dollars long before the greedy Investment Bankers, or Industrialist like the Enrons and Worldcoms,or the Ponzi schemers like Madoff.

They wrote the gentic code for the deceitfulness, which we are witnessing today.

Shame on them!

Patriot are you going to make Paul Watson's interview with CBC'S Barbara Frum available this year to your readers or is it there somewhere alredy? It should be front and center at the moment.

Patriot said...

Good points Anon. Also, I hadn't thought about putting that interview up but now that you've reminded me about it I'll try to track it down on the web.

If you know where it is please feel free to send the link along and I'll gladly add it to my links section.


Patriot said...

Done, the interveiw is at the top of the Web Talk page. I'll leave it there for the next couple of months before moving it to my regular links area.

Thanks for the idea Anon.

Steve said...

Well looking at some of the videos on you tube,if they are authentic, of the Faroese dolphin and pilot whale slaughter then I am glad to be the descendant of a sealer.

Another interesting video on you tube is Meet the Meat.