Canadian Inuit Respond to Ellen DeGeneres’ Famous Selfie with Sealfies and Tradition

Canadian Inuit are using sealfies — photos with seal skins and meat — to demonstrate the role the seal hunt plays in their lives and protest Ellen DeGeneres’s Oscars-selfie-related donation to the Humane Society of the United States, an organization that loudly opposes it.

After DeGeneres’s Oscars selfie with Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep and others became the most retweeted photo ever, Samsung, which made the phone she took it with, donated $1.5 million each to two charities of her choosing: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Humane Society.

This week, concerned Canadian Inuit have responded to that donation with sealfies to bring positive attention to indigenous seal hunting.

Rebecca Mearns via her twitter

Rebecca Mearns via her twitter, by Fred Cattroll

According to Nunatsiaq Online, Iqualuit, Nunavut-based filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril started the idea:

“[Arnaquq-Baril], who is now working on a documentary about the seal hunt, said she hoped Degeneres would make ‘a little bit of effort to understand where we’re coming from.’

If she did, ‘she’d realize that Inuit are the ultimate animal rights activists and environmentalists. And we need to find some common ground.’

Arnaquq-Baril said she and many supporters of sealing are actually ‘big fans’ of the talk show host.

‘But I would be surprised if she knew anything about our land and culture,’ she said. ‘If she did, she wouldn’t be donating $1.5 million to an organization that’s worked very hard to crush our culture, and our economy. She probably hasn’t been exposed to too much media on the subject, and that’s what we’re trying to do is raise some awareness in the media, from an Inuit point of view.’

‘I care about my society, the place I live in,’ Arnaquq-Baril said.”

There does not seem to be any statement directly linking Samsung’s donation to the Humane Society with the seal hunt, and the widely media-quoted statement from DeGeneres, in which she says “seal hunting is one of the most atrocious and inhumane acts against animals allowed by any government,” seems to be from 2011. However, the Humane Society is still an outspoken voice against the seal hunt, and the donation has sparked discussion. (According to the Globe and Mail, The Ellen DeGeneres Show has not yet commented.)

In a video response, Killaq Enuaraq Strauss, a young Iqualuit resident, discusses why anti-seal-hunt sentiments are problematic, including issues such as food insecurity and cultural tradition:

“We’re a culture that’s still so alive, so thriving, but also so challenged. We face challenges such as people who think they have the right to impose on us their beliefs by calling us ‘savages,’ ‘vicious,’ ‘barbarian,’ just because we did what we had to do in order to survive. So when someone like you, someone who I look up to, tells me that my way of life is inhumane, I’m bound to get a little bit defensive […] To take away such a vital part of who we are is detrimental. We’ve suffered under the Canadian government, the Canadian people, and now even worldwide […] If Canada were to ban the seal hunt, so many families would suffer, would face harsher forms of malnutrition, wouldn’t be able to afford proper clothing for the Arctic environment we live in, and even more so, another part of our culture would have been killed.”

Additionally, 35% of Inuit households in Nunavut face severe food insecurity, according to a report released yesterday by the Council of Canadian Academies. The average cost of groceries for a Nunavut household is $19,760 a year, while 45% of Inuit adults earn less than $20,000 a year. Essentials like a bag of flour can cost over $33.

The authors of the report note, “Traditional knowledge represents a way of life, but traditional knowledge of the local environment, combined with the related skill sets for harvesting, travelling on the land and water, and food processing, can also be understood as a set of cultural practices necessary for food security and food sovereignty.” Or as Strauss says:

“Yeah, I own seal-skin boots, and they are super cute and I am proud to say that I own them, but I also eat seal meat more times than I can count, and I can’t apologize for that. Even though we’ve been assimilated into a Western society, traditional food is still the thing that is sustaining families that cannot afford to go to the grocery store.”

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Carolyn is the NSFW Editor for Autostraddle.com. She is also a freelance copy editor and writer, and her work has appeared in Bitch, The Toast, Xtra!, Jezebel, and other places. Find her on twitter.

Carolyn has written 417 articles for us.

38 Comments

  1. Thumb up 17

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    Although I choose not to eat meat myself, I fully support people who hunt humanely for survival purposes – and clearly, given the data, that is still the case for a lot of Inuit people.

    The problem that arises is when hunting becomes a commercial matter or a sport, rather than a means of providing for one’s family. The harp seal population was decimated in the 1960s to the point where, if it continued, they would have become extinct. This is obviously not beneficial to anyone, seal or human.

    • Thumb up 11

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      Agreed. As a vegan it’s hard for me to say that seal hunting is ok. But at the same time, I come from a position of privilege. My culture isn’t being decimated and I’ve always had a reliable food source. Who am I to say people shouldn’t hunt if it is what keeps them and their families fed and warm? There are so many variables.

  2. Thumb up 14

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    I’ve been thinking about this for the last couple of days and have come to the conclusion that I don’t think it’s fair for people with ridiculously easy access to food to criticize people whose main food source is very much reliant on seals.

    I also feel like there are far more significant things to protest, such as the Canadian government allowing oil/natural gas companies to run pipelines through indigenous people’s territory (without their permission) or through provincial/national parks. Both of which are totally fucked.

    I’m pretty disappointed. I feel like it’s easier for a lot of Hollywood people to protest the actions of a group of indigenous people than to protest against a company or industry.

    And in general, I’m fucking tired of the “selfie” as a form of “protest” whatever the cause is. Hollywood, don’t be lazy assholes. Educate yourselves.

    In this case, go visit the rural Canadian Nordic communities and recognize that life up there is tough, especially when it comes to food and clothing. Also, a lot of people of people in these communities use every bit of the animal they can, whether for food, for clothing or for other use.

    How about protesting without stupid selfies and against the multi-national oil and natural gas companies that want to run pipelines across Western Canadian parks and first nations land (without their consent)?

    Fuck you Hollywood celebrities.

    • Thumb up 0

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      Nobody has EVER been critical of the Inuit using the seal for food. They are exempt and this is a publicity stunt for the Canadian gov pro seal campaign. What’s worse, is the exploitation of people for the pro-sealer campaign. I am from Canada – I see what is going on! INUIT!! PLEASE STOP! You have not been included in the anti-seal protest! Ellen is correct. The seal hunt is unethical and should be banned. Once again, this does not include the Inuit peoples.

    • Thumb up 2

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      “I’m pretty disappointed. I feel like it’s easier for a lot of Hollywood people to protest the actions of a group of indigenous people than to protest against a company or industry”

      Absolutely. And of course it’s easier because it involves cute furry animals, something oil and gas companies don’t have. The actions of said companies recquire some research and understanding on these complex issues.
      Why do that when you could stare at pictures of cute animals (they have to be cute of course, otherwise who cares?)?

  3. Thumb up 11

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    But seal hunting is not a sustainable solution for food insecurity – if it were, there would be no food insecurity right now when seal hunting is legal. First Nation people’s problems with access to food don’t stem from a handful of animal rights orgs unsuccessfully opposing seal hunting, they stem from the fact that the government doesn’t subsidize shipping food to them enough.

  4. Thumb up 10

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    I love this campaign in response. I am a vegetarian because I believe in sustainability. There is nothing sustainable or environmentally friendly about walking into a supermarket and buying beef which was raised in Colorado, sent to Ohio to be slaughtered and then shipped in plastic to my supermarket in Philly. The Inuits killing seals do so in order to stay alive. They do it without wasting most parts of the animal, without factory farming, without shipping the meat across the country in order to eat it for dinner. This is EXACTLY the type hunting I think we should encourage. Its very elitist to say that its inhumane or barbaric to kill animals. Its inhumane and barbaric to use animals the way we do in industrialized society.
    Tibetan Buddhists, for example, encourage their followers to not eat meat when unnecessary but vegetarianism is not part of the religion. Why? because the Tibetan terrain does not allow for enough vegetables to grow and can not sustain a population on plants alone. They need meat in order to get enough nutrients and calories.
    I think its great if people are vegetarians because they have enough money to do so and are anyway completely disconnected from the hunting process, which is so much more respectful to environment and animals. There is a difference between eating meat from the supermarket because you feel like and eating meat you have hunted (or using it in other ways) as a part of sustaining life.
    Last point…it is very “us- cultured people” against “them- uncultured” to simply declare all hunting wrong.Its another way which liberal, wealthy populations oppress the populations they often try to help. We needless sympathy and more empathy and cultural understanding.

  5. Thumb up 9

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    I guess when you’re lounging in your spa, swimming in your pool or using one of the nine bathrooms in your 40 million dollar home, it’s impossible to conceive of hunger and necessity.
    I can’t formulate anything coherent here. I’m a Newfie and I get “challenged” on this topic way too often, and it’s exhausting to try and argue with people.
    Especially rich people living incredibly luxurious lives who somehow feel they understand what’s going on in my region.
    I’m privileged enough to be able to survive as a vegetarian. It’s privilege. Does Ellen know she has privilege?

    • Thumb up 2

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      “I’m privileged enough to be able to survive as a vegetarian. It’s privilege. Does Ellen know she has privilege?”

      Incorrect.

      I have relatives who live in India who earn less than $3 per day. They are vegetarians (for religious reasons) and, in fact, most Indians are. They do not have enough money for luxuries that many of us take for granted (e.g. none of them own more than one pair of shoes). The area of central northern India in which they live is arid and poorly suited to growing crops. Nevertheless, they are not starving. They subsist on a diet rich in vegetables (particularly lentils). They are definitely ‘surviving’ as vegetarians.

      If poor Indian textile weavers living in a remote and barren area can survive on a plant-based diet, then humans living in so-called ‘developed’ countries really have no excuse for preying on other species as there are definitely viable alternatives.

      Humans are so species-centric and it makes me sick. This concept of “we need to eat meat to survive” is a first-world invention: the truth is, people just like the taste of meat and are too selfish to give it up.

      Why should an innocent animal die just so you can enjoy a tasty meal? Sure, sharks, cats, polar bears etc. eat meat but humans 1. can survive off plants alone 2. aren’t well-adapted to catching and killing prey in the first place 3. are intelligent enough to conceptualise ethical responsibilities and 4. have access to alternatives. People need to stop making excuses for meat eaters and face the facts.

      • Thumb up 9

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        I agree that it would be great if people in general ate a more sustainable diet, but let me clarify as to what I mean when I say privilege. I do not mean to offend or incense, just to continue discussion and maybe learn something new.

        When I say privilege, I mean I am privileged to choose. I can refuse food because it contains animal product, and this does not fit my diet.

        Many Indian people are vegetarian, yes, and absolutely I have no experience of living for under 3$ a day.

        As Carolyn notes above, the Inuit population has very little income. Crops are also not easy to grow in northern Canada. I also do not have the experience of living in the far north as a member of an oppressed group.

        So what I mean is that I don’t have to think or worry about getting enough to eat. I do not have to alter my desired diet. This is all I meant by privilege. I have access to whatever diet I want. Comfortably having enough to eat, being able to refuse food, makes me one lucky bastard.

        If what you are arguing is that the Inuit do not need to hunt to survive, and that they could survive on vegetarian diets in northern Canada, then I would disagree, but maybe you know more about this and I would love to hear it.

        But I know my ancestors were mostly fishermen, and without the fish they caught they would have gone hungry over the winter. Of your four points, the “access to alternatives” parts is of the biggest concern because access is very limited in some areas, and not financially viable to many families.

        I don’t want to pass judgement on the Inuit population because I have no experience of their way of life and the issue is more complicated than hunting = bad. Morality is never black/white and is entirely subjective. To claim that this group is wrong to hunt seals and that they should just eat a vegetarian diet instead is, I think, too simplified.

        But please respond with your thoughts!

        • Thumb up 2

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          Thanks for clarifying. I can see how it would be hard to grow crops etc. in those regions. I just think “it’s part of our culture” is a poor excuse to be eating any animal: take Norwegian and Japanese whaling, for example. It’s unjustifiably cruel.
          The Inuit seem to be in a more difficult situation, though, because they have access to less food sources than people living Japan and even Norway. The government should be doing more to rectify this situation. Perhaps even hydroponic farming could be a possibility in the future – after all, humans can’t live off meat alone anyway, and regardless of whether they cease seal hunting, Inuit still do need veggies!

          A part of me is screaming “but why should the seals die for the humans to live!” (since I genuinely do not feel that humans are any more entitled to survival than other animals) and another part of me thinks “maybe they should just abstain from seal hunting and stick to fishing because it sort of seems like the lesser of two evils.” Of course, that opens up a whole debate on what makes a species ‘more worthy’ than another species – is killing fish less/just as cruel as killing seals?

          Whether or not there will be a solution to this whole issue seems to depend on the government’s ability to address the food insecurity problem. I’m an Aussie, so I can’t say I know that much about how social welfare works in the US and I don’t feel adequately informed to comment on this.

          I do, however, think fur hunting should be banned, since there are plenty of viable alternatives. Boasting about having ‘super cute’ (as quoted in the article) seal fur boots seems a little disrespectful of the animal that died so they could be made IMO. Seals are beautiful wild animals, not booties/a fashion statement.

        • Thumb up 5

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          Hi Flic,

          I think it is a bit different with subsistence economies, especially in Northern climates that are so harsh. And I agree the woman’s comment about the fur being super cute was flippant. I don’t think you can separate the fur hunting from the food hunting though. In subsistence cultures, usually every part of the animal is used for one purpose or another. They don’t hunt for fur itself, the fur from an animal is used to make clothing, the oil is used for light and heat and the meat is used for food, etc. And the reality is that fur is night and day different from fiber clothing in terms of warmth in extremely cold environments.

          It would be great if other forms of agriculture could be used in those areas but even then, you’ll need to heat the places where that agriculture is done (or have frozen hydroponics). And that also takes money. I went to the Safeway in Nome, Alaska once and they had everything but it was really expensive, especially the produce. It all has to be shipped in from outside and they get no barge deliveries for half the year because the harbor is iced over.

          And government support is only as good as government reliability. One of the Chukchi (Kamchatka, Russia) teachers at our workshop was talking about how they had some support in the Soviet era but it evaporated after the Soviet Union collapsed and they all had to go back to subsistence living. She talked of doing her lesson plans by seal oil light.

          I do want to make a distinction between commercial fur hunting (where much of the animal is wasted) and subsistence hunting. The issue is just a lot more complicated in those environments.

          Thanks,
          Sandy

      • Thumb up 9

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        Please note that in her video, cited above, Strauss says, “We do not hunt seals, or any animal for that matter, for fashion. We hunt to survive. Yes, we make clothing out of the seal fur, but that’s because it’s warm and it’s not $3 million.”

        She later says: “We see animals as gifts, precious things that we were given in order to survive, in order to be able to feed our families and move forward. We’ve only kind and ethical in our treatment towards these animals.”

        (Also thank you Fox for pointing out how complicated this issue is.)

        Also, the situation in question takes place in Canada. The Canadian auditor general is currently running an audit of Nutrition North, the program that currently subsidizes things like milk, eggs and vegetables (and as you can read in this Globe and Mail article, that always doesn’t translate to consumers). Any government program can be flawed, and I’m super curious to see what the results of the audit (which will be released this fall) will be, and how it might translate to funding, though funding is only one part of things. As the authors of the report from the Canadian Council of Academies note:

        “To understand food security in northern Canada, we considered the unique dimensions of northern Canada’s vast geography, remote and diverse communities, a cold but shifting climate, and quickly changing economic and social environments — to name a few. While these are all important and complex factors, the human dimension of food security remained at the core […] For generations, northern Aboriginal peoples have relied upon traditional knowledge to achieve sustainable livelihoods. The adaptive strategies enacted in response to the rapid and major transitions occurring within northern communities provide further evidence of Northerners’ resilience. Moving forward, interventions and policies can be identified, verified, and evaluated. It became clear to us that sustainable solutions to improve food security must be holistic, be enabled by traditional knowledge, respond to locally identified needs, and be paired with economic development strategies. To achieve food sovereignty, support for local food systems is essential.”

      • Thumb up 1

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        Do you see the hypocracy in your statement, Flic?
        “I have relatives who live in India who earn less than $3 per day. They are vegetarians (for religious reasons) and, in fact, most Indians are. They do not have enough money for luxuries that many of us take for granted (e.g. none of them own more than one pair of shoes). The area of central northern India in which they live is arid and poorly suited to growing crops. Nevertheless, they are not starving. They subsist on a diet rich in vegetables (particularly lentils). They are definitely ‘surviving’ as vegetarians”.

        You can support and endorse your own culture’s preference for vegetarianism, but you cannot support another culture’s preference for seal?

        If it was only as easy as some cheap trade deal between the Inuits and Canada and the rest of the world, with a Variety of food sources that were affordable and desirable for the Inuit, as Lentils are for your relatives who live in an arid land.
        This would have to be sustainable. Canada is exactly the fruit and vegetable bowl of North America, however, relatively speaking, the USA could provide fruit and veges.

        Who is to judge sustainability?
        This discussion reeks of Marie Antoinette’s suggestion to let the impoverished “eat cake”, or substitute with what have you. Seal, so far, in the Inuit’s case, for subsistence, not commercial profit.

      • Thumb up 7

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        Some things: India and Canada are not at all the same. Goodness gracious. That’s a very simple, simple thing to understand. You have to be mighty (like, very wealthy and have accesses to tons of resources) privileged to be a vegetarian or vegan in rural Northern Canada or rural Alaska. That’s just a fact. But you’re an Australian, so very clearly you don’t really have a place to be making assumptions about how easy it is to be a vegetarian/vegan in the aforementioned places, nor about how indigenous populations in the North should live.
        Again, it’s extremely upsetting and problematic (and imperialistic, and racist) for you to make judgments about how indigenous populations live. Especially when you’re not even from the same continent, so you don’t have ANY clue.
        Also, to say that eating meat to survive is a “first-world” (problematic) invention??? You’re kidding, right? My ancestors have been hunting in the Eastern US (and clothing themselves in animal hide) for thousands of years. The indigenous populations of Northern Canada and Alaska have been hunting (and clothing themselves in animal hide) in that area for thousands of years. I was a vegetarian for five years. I’m not against vegetarianism. What I *am* against are all these ignorant and problematic and just plain inaccurate statements you’re throwing out.
        Goodness gracious.

  6. Thumb up 4

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    This is such a sticky issue because I understand how much hardship Aboriginal, Inuit and First Nations people have gone through because of the government. However, I do not believe that people’s outrage is targeted at these groups – it is targeted at the commercial seal hunt. Not a personal hunt to survive. It it is your choice to kill your own animals if you need to, but to do it on a mass scale commercially should not be advocated. The commercial hunt is not religious, and I don’t see how it is doing anything to threaten the Inuit’s religious way of life. I think it is absolutely unacceptable that there is a food shortage, and the government should step up to rectify this as with other issues they are facing. But I think these are 2 separate problems.

  7. Thumb up 5

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    I’m sorry,but I am not going to say: Ellen, the devil, donated all that money to the Humane Society, this crackpot of Evil Doers.
    It is wrong for a “rich” country such as Canada to allow its people to go hungry like that. It is totally not ok that food should cost that much and that you should go HAVE to go out to hunt. (That goes for you,too, US of A.)I come from a European country where the elemental basics like flour and milk (we have very low lactose intolerance) is subsidized. I pay 30 cents for a kilogram of flour.It’s not that hard.
    I think that the discussion should be one on hunting seal for food and nourishment vs. economic and fur. There are quotas on seal hunting. And only 3% of seals hunted in Canada are for and by the indigenous population.Most is for fur which is then largely exported to Norway. Greenland has distanced itself from Canada, btw. because they were afraid to be associated with the hunting methods of beating the seals to death, which is the traditional way, btw.
    That said, just because there is an article on this on Autostraddle is not going to make me go all:”Yaaay, seal hunting! It’s tradition! Go minorities! Japan should totally whale more,too!!And man, those pesky mountain gorillas, they are SUCH good income, we really must set priorities here, human over animal, deffo, because seriously, these people down there in Africa have zero place to farm and don’t get me started on the ivory!Huge market, great income, super economic potential!!!” Because all minorities and all traditions are always right and must never be contested from my stuck up priviledged viewpoint?? Yeah, I know fuck me and my love for Baby Gorillas. But really, why isn’t there an article on the very real issue of Mountain Gorillas?Or on the general problem of environmentalism vs preservation of human life?Because these groups didn’t utilize Ellen Degeneres for the propagation of their concerns?
    Sorry, but what really rubbed me the wrong way was the “They are going to crush our culture and our economy.” Now, economy means fur and not hunger and I am very sorry, but I am not on boat with that.
    Now, what these people did is use Mrs. Degeneres’ selfie and donation to endorse seal hunting and this article totally supported that.
    Respect to the culture and I do see the issues at hand,like poverty and shortness of food supplies, which are the real and actual problems here. But what this article failed to mention is that because of receding ice the seal populations are unstable (the cubs fall into the water before they are able to swim and drown) and that the quota for this season in Canada has been set at a high and very heavily disputed 400,000 seals.
    I am glad that there are environmentalists and people who are paying attention and having that discussion and donating a shitload of money towards it.

    • Thumb up 5

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      Ok your style might rub a few people the wrong way, but you do have some valid points. We DO need to have discussions about things like:

      -whether governments have a responsibility to make sure their citizens can afford food
      -where to draw the line between protecting culture/tradition vs stopping inhumane action
      -when/where traditional activities are being exploited by others in the name of “protection” (like your statement about only 3% of seal hunting is actually by/for indigenous Canadians).

      These are all important. It’s hard. I posted before that as a vegan, I’m conflicted. I don’t want to further harm marginalized cultures, but I want to see the end of animals used unnecessarily for human stuff. I think your example of Japan, though, is incorrect. Having lived in Japan, I saw very little poverty. Now, I’m sure there are some poorer areas, but in my experiences living and working there, extreme poverty is very limited. The whale hunt is NOT necessary for survival. Very few Japanese people need to hunt whales for food or livelihood. With indigenous Canadians, though, I think there is a lot less food security and economic opportunity. However I agree that there are still issues. Do we allow those things to be reason enough to let a cruel (at least in my opinion) practice continue? Or should we be looking for solutions that allow people to have that food security and those economic opportunities while still keeping other parts of their culture alive?

      It’s a really complicated issue and it’s easy to be swayed either way by emotional appeals. And I don’t have an answer to any of it, but it’s definitely worth debating.

      Personally, I’m glad Ellen donates money to animal rights causes. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t side issues like this (not that they are less important, but in this case indigenous culture and food sources is a branch off animal rights issues) that give me pause.

    • Thumb up 4

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      “I come from a European country…”
      and that is where you need to stop, educate yourself, and stop with your imperialistic “I know better than you” attitude. ESPECIALLY when you have zero idea of what it means to be indigenous.
      Goodness gracious.

  8. Thumb up 14

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    I think that before condemning others it is important to clean up one’s own backyard. While I would like to see an eventual end to Canada’s commercial seal hunt (in combination with other changes to ensure the needs of the Inuit people are met), I’m more concerned about the abuse of animals in factory farms throughout the United States. The huge businesses running these companies have no excuse.

    • Thumb up 7

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      THANK YOU! I find these conversations so frustrating because a community and individual’s diet is heavily influenced by their environment and their propensity to gassiness. My sister found out that she was gluten intolerant and some of the people we hang out with think that this is a form of veganism and are making fun of her. They call it “special snowflake syndrome,” I call it “I don’t want to be miserable and constipated.” Anyway, growing up she was always miserable and constipated when it came to eating foods with gluten but no one knew better, privilege and information made her wiser because her environment allowed for that.

      Not to say my sister is a saint, but I’m just annoyed when people of relative privilege just make these statements or declarations and not realize what they are doing. So I really agree with you on cleaning your own backyard before you criticize someone or a community.

      “While I would like to see an eventual end to Canada’s commercial seal hunt (in combination with other changes to ensure the needs of the Inuit people are met), I’m more concerned about the abuse of animals in factory farms throughout the United States. The huge businesses running these companies have no excuse.”

      Omg, yes again and again. I’m giving Ellen a side-eye for this.

    • Thumb up 1

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      I would be concerned with you, but where is your evidence?

      I am not discounting at all your point of view, if you can provide evidence of your claim, then this entire marketing campaign is cruel, full of bullshit and disrespect to Inuit and anyone’s intelligence.

      I am vegetarian, from New Zealand, in a land where fruit and vegetables can be grown, and I grow some of my food. The Inuit do not have such a forgiving climate with which to grow their own food. Neither do a lot of people in places such as Tibet, Mongolia. I am not going to piss on someone’s means of subsistence in order to live simply because I think it is cruel, and to survive on the available food ie seal, is ok because well, what the fuck else is there in Northern Canada?

      Commercialised exploitation of animals is cruel, no matter who does it, where, or how. New Zealand is BIG on dairy, beef, lamb, chicken, pork and deer. New Zealand is making big dollars from it.
      Ellen DeGeneres is only highlighting ONE of many situations that she as a vegan disagrees with. I agree with her, only if this marketing campaign is a grotesque front for the Canadian Commercial Seal Fur Industry.

      Keep in mind that Ellen could have highlighted USA/UK/Australia/New Zealands factory farming, or say, Japan/Norway’s Whale Science hunts, or Africa’s Big Game Hunting/Gorilla kills/Ivory trade, honestly, there is no limit to what she could have “picked on”. There are unfortunately many options involving commercial animal cruelty.

      What would be condescending is picking on and denigrating a minority for their way of subsisting on the available food resources they have, which in the Inuits’ situation, is I don’t know, Seals? Amidala brings up some excellent points.
      The issue is about hunting for subsistence versus commercial hunting for profit. Subsistence involves surviving day by day, there is no economic advantage or profit accrued when a group uses all the animal themselves. There is profit and advantage accrued when a group uses the animal to onsell at a profit to someone else. Major difference.

    • Thumb up 3

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      The comment section on this piece is going to be the death of me.
      I was raised in rural Alaska. I am indigenous (of the Lower 48, though). I was a vegetarian for five years.
      I’d REALLY like for the commenters on this piece to walk a mile in the shoes of rural First Nations population up North, or hell, a rural white person in Alaska or northern Canada. Try being a vegetarian, or even more so, a vegan. See how long you can survive.
      Also, the imperialistic attitude of a lot of these comments “I know better than you” is REALLY obnoxious/problematic/needs to stop right now.

      • Thumb up 4

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        I’m a volunteer for the site and have been monitoring the comments on this post for the better part of the day. The majority of the comments grasp that they cannot stand in the shoes of the Inuit, or speak for them. Others have criticized the government or corporations. A few have asked why the Inuit have chosen to launch a PR campaign because they have an exemption for hunting (but to me this seems self-explanatory – a high profile campaign against the seal hunt would likely cause its wholesale abolition, and with it any exemption the Inuit might have.)

        At any rate, discuss. But comments implying bad faith on the part of the Inuit because they are trying to maintain their livelihood (I am sure few if any of us know anything about it), or that they are being used (which is patronizing and implies a lack of agency) will be edited or removed.

        • Thumb up 0

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          Internet communication leaves a lot to be desired.
          I am asking for evidence that the Inuit are according to Jetgirl777 in cahoots with the Canadian Government, as I think that this seems like a conspiracy theory.
          I am not implying any lack of credibility to anyone, I am simply asking for evidence.
          In an article on Autostraddle, I am able to ask for evidence, and not have someone take from my request for evidence that I am denigrating the Inuit. Or the Canadian Government.
          Take it easy, let me speak for myself, and don’t claim that I implied or meant anything without checking with what I meant, first.

          • Thumb up 2

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            I wasn’t calling you out. I was stating the ground rules for discussion. I don’t suppose I could be speaking for you, then?

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      I see very few comments on this article that are not supportive of Inuit people hunting for survival. I see a lot of comments that are not supportive of the commercial seal hunt, which is a different matter, and expressing that Ellen and her supporters should turn their focus to other problems.

      I agree that any comments questioning the justification for the Inuit people themselves to hunt for sustenance are inappropriate, but I don’t see that at all as characterizing this entire comments section.

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    Yeah … no.

    Cruelty will never be acceptable. We should not be raising positive press for the vicious slaughter of wildlife; we should be demanding alternatives so that people don’t have to resort to cruelty to survive. If you think that putting a happy spin on seal slaughter is magically going to make a bag of flour affordable and accessible, you’re wrong. If you think that putting a happy spin on seal hunting is going to magically make the problems the Inuit already face disappear, you’re wrong.

    There is nothing wrong with finding seal hunting inhumane; because it is. But we need to realize both animals and humans are suffering in this scenario, and both need help.

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      No. No no no no no no.
      It’s not “vicious slaughter.” It’s survival. It’s not cruelty to eat and clothe yourselves, especially when you don’t have any other options. Their ancestors have been doing it for thousands of years, my ancestors in the Lower 48 have been doing it for thousands of years (albeit with different animals), etc etc etc. And neither you nor I have the right to tell them they’re doing it wrong, especially keeping in mind imperialism, white/Western savior complex, etc. Their version of hunting is not like PETA’s told you about. I don’t hunt and I am against hunting for kicks, but when you’re in the middle of nowhere and poor, you do what you have to do. That’s how I survived my first five years of life. My dad hunting and a garden in the summer.
      The humans are suffering more. To say otherwise is startlingly problematic and offensive.

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    I am surprised that people are so quick to judge what other people eat and condemn them for those choices. Sometimes it’s not a choice. Sometimes it is.

    People have commented on here on whether or not it’s ‘traditional’ and questioned the morality of the practice and yet, they are not Inuit.

    I don’t understand how you can make assumptions about another culture in such a way. The Canadian government has attempted, time and time again, to dictate policy for First Nations, Aboriginals, Metis and Inuit, without their consent or input. And when they do speak out in protest, like in this article, they are faced with major backlash and contempt.

    Reading a lot of the comments on this article really made me sad.

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