This is one of the most controversial days in Canada in the entire calendar year.
That’s right: it is the date of the annual seal hunt, something we’ve been criticized for by animal rights organizations and celebrities around the world.
It’s a contentious issue. I found an interesting assortment of articles in my search for information, from blatant rebuttals about the erroneous accusations being leveled at Canada, to scathing accounts of the status of the seal hunt procedures that have since been banned here but are purported to still be in practice.
Look, the bottom line here is: I’m not crazy about the seal hunt.
But I’m also not crazy about the stunt that one famous person pulled for the cameras.
Now, I am trying not to jump on emotional bandwagons. When I see those cute pictures of those little seals with the big black eyes, I’m smitten too.
But I’m also aware that issues are seldom as black and white as some activists would have us all believe.
Truth is, there are a lot of inherited practices in Canada that date back to centuries old Native traditions. And we live in a country that’s been trying to balance their rights to their ways with the pressures and demands of the modern world.
Now, that doesn’t excuse everything. I’m an animal lover – regulars here know that. Three dogs (2 rescue dogs of the 3) and 3 cats. I’ve got nature and wildlife shots that’ll put you to sleep, I love shooting photos of wildlife that much.
But I’ve also been to the arctic, and I’ve seen a beluga being carved and smoked for meat for the winter. It isn’t an indulgence to kill those magnificent creatures up there – it’s survival, pure and simple. When you spend some time in a northern community, you start to see that. You see how they have to prepare to survive. And you understand that imported supplies are limited. Supplementing with what nature provides is essential.
It doesn’t make it any easier, and believe me, I passed on the offer to try some smoked beluga. That just wasn’t something I felt I needed to experience. But I’d also seen enough to know I had no right to stand in judgment over their way of life.
The seal hunt is different. But what really bothers me about the seal hunt is that when I tried to search for information, I found nothing on the government sites I went to about the current regulations. I could find no valid source of information to confirm accusations or refute them.
And that, my friends, really bothers me.
I’ve been swept away in the past with the emotional currents. I understand the temptation. But I try to make informed decisions, and when I can’t find enough information from legitimate sources to feel like I’ve got the facts I need to consider, well, I’m nothing if not annoyed.
I was totally pissed off by some of the animal rights groups, because the google search registered a site claiming to have links to both sides of the argument, a balanced perspective, and I’d click to find myself not anywhere balanced at all, but on a campaign list for who I could email and what foods I could boycott to make my point to the Canadian government.
Obviously, the point being not to educate me as promised, but to persuade me to their side only.
Free speech, and the freedom to express your views, is a wonderful thing. But it is unfortunate when people use it to abuse their view and impose it on others.
Now, I feel that I would lean in the anti-seal hunt ban category. If I had enough information in front of me to make a reasoned decision, I’m 99% certain I’d swing that way. Because that’s my natural inclination, not being one to be big on hunting in general or clubbing animals to death specifically.
But I can’t make that decision. Because I don’t have the facts. And jumping to conclusions without facts exposes you to presenting a faulty argument when you don’t know exactly what it is that you’re fighting against.
What I wish is that the activists were reasoned enough, mature enough, to trust people to have all the information in front of them and make the right decision. Okay, not everyone will do that. I mean, all you need to do is look at an election to know that there will always be people that will see things differently. But in a democracy, we also need to respect that. The point is, the way it stands, it’s nothing more than which side has the more effective propaganda machine wins.
And from what I’ve seen of the newspaper articles and media coverage, the Canadian government isn’t hurting in that department.
And all I’m left with is the frustration that this controversial issue comes up again, year after year, and I don’t feel like either side in the debate has been the slightest bit concerned with being honest and balanced about what really happens at a seal hunt, or the reasons why.
And until I get those answers, I'm going to be mad at everyone.
Go Home Paul McCartney
Boycott or Be Damned
Seal Hunt a Stain on Canada
Inuit website Inuit Diet and Hunting History
The view from Minnesota