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Inuit Politicians Speak Out as Pawns of the Canadian Government

March 17, 2006

Inuit Politicians Speak Out as Pawns of the Canadian Government

The March 13th edition of the Toronto Star has two Inuit politicians from the far North condemning Sir Paul McCartney's visit to the harp seal nursery. Once again, the Canadian government is parading token Native people before the media in an attempt to draw a line connecting the commercial mass slaughter of seals and traditional and indigenous people. This is part of a government plan to promote sympathy for the seal hunt by appealing to the public with lies.

Lie # 1: The hunt is humane.
Lie # 2: The harp seals need to be killed to protect the cod.
Lie # 3: The seal is an important source of income for poor people.
Lie # 4: Seals are killed by traditional native people - Indians and Inuit.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society rejects all of these lies. The biggest lie of all is the implication that the seals are humanely killed by Native people. There is not a single Native American Indian or Inuit employed in the Canadian commercial seal hunt.
The strategy behind this lie is revealed in the following commentary:

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson, Founder and President of Sea Shepherd

Once again the Inuit of Northern Canada have been drafted into defending the commercial slaughter of seals.

In the March 13 edition of the Toronto Star, Sheila Watt-Cloutier the chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference and Duane Smith, the President of the Conference, have both denounced Sir Paul McCartney and Lady Heather Mills McCartney's visit to see the new born seals in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The Inuit of Greenland have condemned the commercial seal hunt off Eastern Canada as an embarrassment to sealers. The commercial seal hunt does not employ any Native peoples.

So why are Watt-Cloutier and Smith attacking Paul and Heather?

Because the Federal government has asked them to. [See more about Watt-Cloutier below - Sea Shepherd is asking for a boycott of the Annual Green Cross Millennium Awards because she is being bestowed with an environmental award]

A few years ago in a talk in Iceland to a conference of whalers, the Canadian government representative was one Brian Roberts, a senior advisor to the Canadian Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs. Roberts gave an astonishing speech to the assembled delegates of whalers.

In his address, Roberts outlined specific strategies that commercial whalers can use to undermine anti-whaling campaigns, drawing from the heated debates on sealing and the fur industry in Canada.

"The first step was to neutralize the appeal of the animal protection lobby," Roberts said. "To accomplish this it was necessary to mount an equally emotionally powerful counter-appeal. This counter-appeal was based on the survival needs of aboriginal communities which depended upon the continuing taking of fur-bearing animals."

Roberts said that this lesson would be useful to the whalers in "your own efforts to deal with a poorly informed and emotional public, and with politicians seeking electoral approval from such publics."

In other words, Roberts speaking on behalf of the government of Canada was openly saying that Native people should be used as politically-correct and emotional arguments to win favor for commercial whaling.

His reference to the Canadian seal hunt being countered by promoting the plight of Native seal hunters was indicative of where he saw this going. There had not been a single Native Indian or Inuit involved in the notorious slaughter of seal pups on the Atlantic coast. It was exclusively a Norwegian-owned industry employing white Newfoundlanders, Nova Scotians, and Quebecois. Not a single protest had ever been mounted against Inuit seal hunters, yet it was these Inuit seal hunters that the government portrayed as the victims of the protestors.

This was, of course, a long tradition. The Hudson Bay Company began it by using Indians to gather furs for the fur trade. The Indians were cheated at every opportunity and the fur-bearing animals, especially the beaver, were nearly exterminated. When the anti-fur movement rose up to defend the animals, the furriers hid behind their Native workers, and cited racism and imperialism for interfering with a traditional trade. Of course, commercial exploitation of furs on such a scale had never been a tradition of the Indians. But Indians are like everyone else when it comes to whoring for dollars, so they eagerly jumped into the fray to accuse the protectors of beavers, wolves, foxes and mink of being racists.

Roberts continued, "If you want to go whaling commercially, unless you have your act together on...three questions, you're dead in the water," he said. "The three questions concern: the status of the whale stock (endangered or not), the killing method. (humane or not), and whether the hunt is frivolous."

A few years ago when Canada was saying the European vote to ban harp seal pelts would harm the Inuit. Following is a letter written by Arnaituk M. Tarkirk from Kuujjuak in Northern Quebec who is not a politician and opposes the seal hunt:We have been hearing all about the European vote to ban the importation of seal products from the so-called seal hunt.

I am an Inuk and I would like to say what I think about this.

Peter Ittinuur, Northwest Territory MP, has been saying that this vote will put a lot of Inuit on welfare. This is stupid. The money from the hunt goes to Norway mostly and has nothing to do with the Inuit.

We are skillful hunters who hunt adult animals for food, That is not the same as bashing a pup, which can't move, over the head.

In fact, if the seal hunt stopped, we would benefit the most. There would be 180,000 more seals left for us to eat when they are a few years older, and also people would not have such an aversion to sealskin products as they have after seeing the way they kill the pups, so craft work made with adult seals would be more popular.

The Hudson Bay Company and the government are just using the Inuit to further their own purposes. I am surprised Peter Ittinuur, whom I know, could allow himself to be used like that. I know people who are against the seal hunt, and they are not against the Inuit.

I am an Inuk, and I oppose the seal hunt.

This is the same reason the Inuit of Greenland and the government of Greenland have condemned the Canadian slaughter of hundreds of thousands of seal pups. They view it as an embarrassment and they believe that the association in the public eye between bashing seal pups in the head and seal fur has ruined their traditional markets.

Back in 1984, The Native Brotherhood of Canada openly accused me of racism for opposing the commercial hunt and accused me of forcing Native people into welfare and to become addicted to drugs and drink because we were interfering with their traditional livelihood.

The accusation came from Jean Rivard, the President of the association.

I successfully sued him and he paid damages and apologized.

He lost when I asked him before the judge just what native people were being forced out of work. He answered the native peoples of Newfoundland.

I responded by informing him that the Beothuk people of Newfoundland were driven to extinction a century before by the very same people he was now defending - the white sealers of Newfoundland.

Now, once again, the government is drafting Inuit to defend the commercial seal hunt, an industry that does not employ a single native person.

They are simply utilizing the strategy that Roberts had laid out to defend commercial whaling. Insist that it is humane, insist that the populations are not threatened, and associate the industry with a traditional culture.

What was really insulting was when Sheila Watt-Cloutier accused Paul McCartney of being disrespectful of wildlife and said it was silly of him to pose with a baby seal. This was because these animals must only be considered as food and have no other use she implied.

Paul and Heather McCartney and I do not consider seals to be food. We are vegans. We believe that animals have a right to live happily on the Earth without fear and suffering at our hands. Is this silly?

It seems to me to be a more respectful way of looking at animals than clubbing new born pups over the head or skinning them alive.

And it certainly is more respectful than being a cheap public relations hack for the Canadian government's defense of the horrifically-cruel, wasteful, and unnecessary mass slaughter of hundreds of thousands of seal pups.

Paul McCartney was right when he said this slaughter is a stain on the character of the Canadian people. Why would the Inuit want to associate themselves with this stain?

Many of them do not, as illustrated by the letter above from Arnaituk M. Tarkirk, the Inuk from Northern Quebec and from NativeRadio.com as follows.

The Position of NativeRadio.com

NativeRadio.com's position on the Harp seal slaughter:

NativeRadio.com has always supported indigenous culture and causes. The Inuit have the sovereign right to subsistence hunt seals for food and commercial needs. The Inuit are not hunting baby harp seals, but rather adult ring seals. They also do not use brutal killing tactics, and are not decimating a species of animal.

Our fight is not with the Inuit, but rather the Canadian government and the commercial slaughter of baby harp seals. The Canadian government likes to tell the world that this slaughter is "98% humane." The facts and documented evidence shows that to be an outright lie.

What is 98% humane about clubbing to death 12-day old baby harp seals, with a large ice-pick-like hakapik (many requiring second strikes)? What is 98% humane about skinning alive these defenseless creatures? What is 98% humane about killing baby Harp seals so someone can show off their expensive seal pelts?

There is a difference in an indigenous culture's right to hunt for food and economic survival, and the non-indigenous Newfoundlander's massive slaughter of defenseless animals for profit and vanity!

NativeRadio.com does not condone the killing of any creature, but we do understand the Inuit's right to do so.

We believe that baby harp seals have as much right (if not more) to be on this planet, than we do. We will continue to do what we can to make the world aware of this slaughter and to do what we can to stop it.

With respect,
Patrick Doyle
CEO
NativeRadio.com

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is calling for a boycott of the 10 Annual Green Cross Millennium Awards

This event to be held April 1st at the Beverly Hills Hotel is bestowing a Millennium Award to Sheila Watt-Cloutier.

Sheila Watt-Cloutier publicly condemned Sir Paul McCartney in the Canadian media on March 13th for bringing attention to the annual mass slaughter of harp seal pups off the Eastern Coast of Canada.

At the same time that Watt-Cloutier accepts her "environmental" award, the heads of tens of thousands of young seals will be bashed in by Canadian Sealers.

Watt-Cloutier said opposition to the slaughter of seals off Newfoundland was a threat to the Inuit people despite the fact that the commercial seal hunt is an all white slaughterhouse. There are no Inuit and no Native peoples participating in the slaughter.

But the government of Canada would have people believe that the Inuit are connected to the commercial hunt and Watt-Cloutier was willingly used by the Canadian Government for propaganda purposes to give credibility to this lie.

How can a woman who openly advocates the largest mass slaughter of marine mammals on the planet get a Global Green Millennium Award?

This makes a complete mockery of this award.

Over a million seals have been cruelly slaughtered off Canada's Eastern Coast in a hunt that is managed by the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the same bureaucracy responsible for the eradication of the Northern cod by over-fishing.

Sheila Watt-Cloutier insulted Sir Paul McCartney and his wife Lady Heather Mills McCartney by saying it was silly of them to pose with the seal pups and showed disrespect for wildlife because these animals are there for food and not for playing with.

None of the 325,000 seals killed each year are used for food. This is deliberate mis-information designed to attract sympathy for the sealers by fraudulently associating the commercial seal hunt with the traditional Inuit seal hunt in the far North. The two are not even remotely connected.


 

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