Inuit use social media to post “sealfies,” standing beside freshly killed seals

Humane Society says it doesn’t oppose Inuit seal hunt

Donation to group by Ellen DeGeneres sparked #sealfie social media campaign

The Canadian Press Posted: Apr 08, 2014

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Wildlife Photography © Jim Robertson

Wildlife Photography © Jim Robertson

A spokeswoman for the Canadian arm of the Humane Society International isclarifying the group’s position on the Inuit seal hunt, as a protest against TV star Ellen DeGeneres in the North gains support.

Rebecca Aldworth says recent reports on the protests are mixing up subsistence sealing in Canada’s North with the commercial hunt.

She says animal protection groups oppose commercial sealing in Atlantic Canada by non-aboriginal people.

Inuit in Nunavut have been engaged in a “sealfie” movement ever since DeGeneres took a celebrity selfie at the Oscars last month.

DeGeneres donated $1.5 million of the money raised by the star-studded picture to the Humane Society of the United States, an organization that fights seal hunting.

In response, Inuit are using social media to post pictures of themselves wearing sealskin clothes, standing beside freshly killed seals or looking forward to enjoying a seal meal.

“Commercial sealing advocates have long attempted to blur the lines between their globally condemned industry and the socially accepted Inuit subsistence hunt,” Aldworth said in a statement Tuesday.

“Unlike Inuit sealers, commercial sealers almost exclusively target baby seals who are less than three months old. Inuit hunters kill seals primarily for meat,” she said.

“Commercial sealers slaughter seal pups for their fur, dumping most of the carcasses at sea. Inuit sealers kill seals sporadically throughout the year, while commercial sealers often kill hundreds of thousands of seals in a matter of days or weeks.”

Inuit have long maintained that any opposition to the seal hunt, commercial or otherwise, harms Inuit by destroying the market for seal furs. That’s the reason Inuit launched a legal challenge against a European ban of seal products, even though that legislation included an exemption for seal products harvested by Inuit.

While it is true that most seals harvested in the commercial seal hunt are under three months old, all are independent animals. Hunting white coat baby seals has been outlawed in Canada since 1987.

To promote its own message, the Inuit land claims group Nunavut Tunngavik is supporting the sealfie movement and plans to operate a photo booth in its offices in Iqaluit this Thursday. It is also organizing a giant sealfie in Iqaluit on Friday afternoon.

The group says it wants to educate people about Nunavut’s sustainable and humane seal harvest.

During the Oscar broadcast on March 2, host, comedian and daytime TV star DeGeneres went into the audience and snapped a selfie that included luminaries such as Bradley Cooper, Meryl Streep and Kevin Spacey. Smartphone manufacturer Samsung, which made the phone DeGeneres used, promised to donate a dollar to charity for every time the photo was retweeted.

The selfie almost immediately crashed Twitter and became the most widely retweeted photo ever.

In statements on her website, DeGeneres, a vegan, calls the seal hunt “one of the most atrocious and inhumane acts against animals allowed by any government.”

15 thoughts on “Inuit use social media to post “sealfies,” standing beside freshly killed seals

  1. The question really is: why is anyone killing seals in the 21st century. Jim, I just unsubscribed from Common Dreams because I do not have time to deal with these apologists for so-called “subsistence hunting” who really get quite vicious on the blog, when I mention the violence of Homo sapiens, and that as a species we are destructive even though there are certainly individual humans (not enough I believe) on the planet who are good, compassionate people. I was called a racist and prejudiced because I mentioned that the majority of what we call “native or indigenous people” were long ago killing each and other animals. I personally think, this idea of identifying humans by alleged blood lines, is part of why we are so violent. Hitler was a great example of this, and this kind of thinking keeps separating us from each other. We all came from Africa, and none of us are “pure blooded.” We are all one species, just different colors, and languages, are we not? Maybe if we could have shed this idea of one group being “superior” or better, we might have developed more wisdom. Thanks for listening! I will just use what time I have for comments to your blog and other related ones.

  2. Yet again–are u fucking kidding me!!!!!!!! Just sayin’ –when does this effing shit stop??? Probably never. Hello folks. This is the 21st century and all those effing entitled dipshits, Intuit or otherwise, need to get with the world/ life crisis. We are all at the end–keep it up, dudes. We are beyond expendable.

  3. This reminds me of when Oprah got into it with the beef industry. Go, Ellen! Killing is killing and no one needs to be killing seals for any reason these days. I agree with Rosemary 100%. Let’s be done with the racist accusations going either way. We are all in this together and we all need to stop killing. Some traditions need to go away. Just because I have some Basque ancestry doesn’t mean I want or need to play some form of antiquated polo with human skulls for the ball–just to keep tradition alive.

    • Please let’s not oversimplify by calling any disagreement with someone of a different race or gender some kind of ‘-ism’. The problem with this is that, like the wolf killers, these people are having fun trying to piss off the animal welfare advocates and environmentalists. We’re all equal, and our race or gender doesn’t give us any special qualities one way or the other, and when we are doing a shitty job, we should be called on it as an equal human being!

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