Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Governor General's seal snack sparks controversy

Ok I have read all I can about this and even though I am behind in work and have appointments today however, I cannot remain silent any longer. As a person who loves to cook and hopes to establish a business serving indigenous foods I can tell you I am FED-UP with the attitudes expressed by the narrow minds quoted in this story.

There is a food security issue in many of our Inuit and First Nation communities. Young Inuit children are choosing food produced and regulated by the southern economies rather than local foods and it's impacting their health.

For a parent to ask their child to eat their food they have been informed by the righteous white that they are in fact doing nothing more than satisfying a “bloodlust” as they “slash” meat from a carcass. The French still eat Tartar do they not...raw meat?

Frankly I'd like to see seal meat on the menu at McDonalds. I'd like for our Indigenous food products to be visible and compete in the larger southern markets. I'd like it so I could go into the Great Canadian Super Store and see White Corn for corn soup in cans, dried, and milled for my bannock. I'd like to purchase my Buffalo and Caribou knowing that I was supporting the original peoples and their economies. I want to be able to buy smoked salmon and oilcan grease and be secure in the knowledge that it was a First Nation company that I purchased from. I’d like to see a whole food section dedicated to our producers and food sources. But if laws are created that continue to exclude us from marketing our foods then how will we ever convince our children that our food sources are nutritious, affordable, sustainable, and delicious?

Indigenous foods are plenty in the market place but nobody recognises them as such because the business people have exploited the land and its resources. Without inclusion in the food economy it’s just another form of cultural appropriation.

Governor General's seal snack sparks controversy
Last Updated: Tuesday, May 26, 2009 | 7:52 PM ET Comments561Recommend137
CBC News
Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean and her husband Jean-Daniel Lafond, in matching jackets, take part in a community feast in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, on Monday. Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean and her husband Jean-Daniel Lafond, in matching jackets, take part in a community feast in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, on Monday. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean snacking on a slain seal's raw heart has sparked criticism from the European Union and animal rights groups.

Barbara Slee, an anti-seal hunt campaigner at the International Fund for Animal Welfare in Brussels, said she was disgusted by Jean's actions.

"The fact that the Governor General in public is slashing and eating a seal, I don't think that really helps the cause, and I'm convinced that this will not change the mind of European citizens and politicians," Slee told The Associated Press.

"It amazes us that a Canadian official would indulge in such bloodlust," Dan Mathews, senior vice-president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, told the Toronto Star.

"It sounds like she's trying to give Canadians an even more Neanderthal image around the world than they already have."

Kicking off a weeklong visit to Nunavut on Monday as part of the territory's 10th anniversary celebrations, Jean gutted and ate some fresh seal at a community festival in the central Nunavut community of Rankin Inlet.

The move, to show support for the beleaguered seal hunters, comes as the European Union voted earlier this month to impose a ban on seal products after years of intense lobbying by animal rights groups.

Asked Tuesday whether her actions were a message to Europe, Jean replied, "Take from that what you will."

A spokeswoman for EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas offered no official reaction.

"No comment — it's too bizarre to acknowledge," Barbara Helfferich said.

The EU's trade ban has limited exemptions to Inuit from Canada and Greenland to continue their traditional seal hunts. However, those exemptions are subject to a number of restrictions.

Canadian Inuit leaders praised Jean's gesture, saying it sends a strong message to the world about the traditional "country food" that Inuit rely on.

"Not everybody would do that, especially when they know that the seal hunt ... is a controversial issue because of the animal rights people," Mary Simon, head of the national Inuit organization Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, told CBC News on Tuesday.

"I just want to thank her for her support of our people and our culture."

Both Simon and Paul Kaludjak, president of the land claims group Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., said the seal hunt is not a controversial issue among Inuit.

"We don't really care about how the outside world thinks about how we eat our country food," Kaludjak said.

"Let them be disgusted, whatever they want to pursue, and that's their choice."

Kaludjak added there are better things to do than to criticize other people's practices.

Simon said people should take note of the message Jean is sending by eating the seal heart.

"It really sends a message out to the public that maybe these animal rights campaigns are off-base and are giving inaccurate information," Simon said.

Federal Defence Minister Peter MacKay weighed in on the controversy, offering Jean his full support.

"I think that was wonderful. I think she's Canada's new Braveheart for eating the seal heart," MacKay told reporters following question period in Ottawa on Tuesday.

When asked if he would eat a piece of seal heart, MacKay, who said he has eaten seal liver and flippers, replied, "Sure! Absolutely. I'd love to try it."



Ward of the State said...

I think Jean was pretty brave for what she did. SHe knew it would come with a huge backlash. It's the first time I can say I've seen a governor general do something admirable.

On the issue of seal meat - I reacll a few years ago some Inuit protesting with a very clever sign that had a picture on a cow. On the top it said "save the cows" on the bottom it said "avoid cultural prejudice."

Anonymous said...

Calling Inuit traditions "Neanderthal" sounds _racist_ to me, but that wouldn't really be the first time for PETA (see KKK dog show stunt).

Ward of the State said...

Good point anon.

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