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Governor General sparks controversy over seal hunt - May 28th 2009, 02:08 AM

Gov. Gen. MichaŽlle Jean was criticized by a European animal-rights group Tuesday but praised by others after she sliced off and ate a raw piece of a seal's heart to show solidarity with sealers devastated by a planned European ban on seal product imports.

The gesture has caused quite a stir.

Media and gossip blog Gawker has taken note and labelled the Governor General "badass."

The blog said Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin only decorated her office with dead animals and shot wolves from helicopters.

"While Jean, clearly the more badass of the two, prefers to butcher seals and eat their hearts in front of hundreds of onlookers," the bloggers wrote.

Mary Simon, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Canada's national Inuit organization, "applauds" Jean for her public support of traditional Inuit culture.

"Hunting and eating a seal is not a political act, nor is it bizarre or disgusting, as the anti-sealing lobby have commented," she said. "To us, this kind gesture is an acknowledgment by the Governor General of our culture and our dependence upon our wildlife as an important resource for our communities today."

Jean was accused of continuing the Canadian government's tactic of using the popularity of the Inuit in Europe to fight the ban, while ignoring the ban legislation's exemption for traditional, subsistence sealing.

"I think it's another sad and desperate attempt by the Canadian government to blur the distinction between the seal hunts," said Barbara Slee of the International Fund for Animal Welfare. "We do not oppose subsistence hunts."

Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, who is from Nunavut, also praised Jean.

"I'm very happy that she ate the seal to promote the importance of that diet to Aboriginal people," Aglukkaq told reporters in Ottawa

"Everything in the seal is eaten. There's not a thing wasted," the minister said.

The European Union ban was endorsed in a vote earlier this month and expected to take effect in the spring or early summer of 2010.
Jean tasted the seal meat at the start of her tour of the Canadian North while attending a community feast at Rankin Inlet.
I'm not really sure what to think of this. The idea of eating a raw seal heart makes my stomach twist a bit. If it really was just a show of support for the Inuit culture and way of life, then I think it's great of Michaelle Jean. But I'm not so supportive if this is an attempt to compare Inuit seal hunts, crucial to their survival, with commercial seal hunts in order to make the latter more acceptable.

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Re: Governor General sparks controversy over seal hunt - May 28th 2009, 04:06 AM

It's impossible to tell WHY she did it, of course, since we're not her. Maybe she was just hungry...Really, though, the seal hunt is important to the economies of may rural Canadian communities. Is it ideal that people kill baby seals? No. Might it be a necessary evil right now? I dunno. I don't actually know enough to comment intelligently.
But if it is the case that an end to the seal fur trade would be devastating to rural maritime communities, I don't know that it's really wrong for her to try to counter opposition to the seal hunt.
But, honestly, this seems like making mountains out of molehills. She was beginning a tour of the North and did something that is customary there. Sure, it could be laden with political symbolism and we all should be aware of the symbolism of our actions, but she might just have wondered what seal heart tasted like...

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Re: Governor General sparks controversy over seal hunt - May 28th 2009, 04:08 AM

I heard about this on the news. I think that the governor general Michaelle Jean simply wanted to give support and help for the Inuits, and what better way than to practice some of their culture? Lots of what I'm hearing in the news about it being a plot to promote seal hunting has come from people who are very determined to protect animals, so there is obviously a higher probability of bias.

About comparing them to commercial seal hunting, that can be one interpretation but I don't think that was her motive. She was touring and in order to bond, she took part of a traditional event. It just so happens that the event would be frowned upon. If the event was cleaning walls, then there wouldn't be as much hype and twisting it around.
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