IQALUIT, Nunavut -
At least one person's unimpressed by all the fuss over the seal-skinning adventures of Michaelle Jean, her predecessor as Governor General.
Adrienne Clarkson was curt when asked by a reporter about Jean's headline-grabbing gesture last week, and Clarkson's own memories of meals with the Inuit.
"I've eaten raw food here since 1971. It's nothing new to me, OK?" Clarkson told The Canadian Press this weekend. Both women were attending an arctic gathering hosted by Clarkson's husband John Ralston Saul.
"I have a lovely seal skin coat. ... I've eaten raw food since 1971 - and there you are."
Jean's decision to help skin a seal with a traditional ulu blade, ask for a slice of heart, and then eat it, triggered an emotional reaction from supporters and critics around the world.
There is indeed long historical precedent for the gesture: even Prince Charles snacked on the blubbery mammal during a trip to the North three decades ago.
But the difference is last week's events were captured on video, landing amid an international debate over seal hunting.
Clarkson said she hadn't seen the images, as she quietly slipped out of a high school gymnasium Friday. Across the room, a crowd had gathered around Jean to shake her hand and snap photos.
The former governor general may have been indifferent to the hoopla. But the indifference cuts both ways.
Jean is equally unimpressed with Clarkson's most recent public offerings.
Clarkson, in remarks interpreted as a slight at Jean, last month suggested all future candidates for governor general should be forced to undergo a Canadian-knowledge quiz.
She urged televised hearings where vice-regal aspirants could be asked to locate the Mackenzie River, discuss the conscription crisis and the Manitoba Schools Question, or name Canadian artists.
The suggestion was interpreted by many as a shot at Jean, who had just recently been publicly corrected when she mixed up B.C.'s Coastal Mountains and the Rockies.
Unlike Clarkson, who in a lengthy career as a CBC journalist had travelled extensively across the country, Jean worked almost exclusively in Quebec.
She admitted in her 2005 installation speech that she had much left to discover about Canada.
Jean says what's important is that the office reflect the country: a place where people arrive with different attributes, but celebrate what they have in common.
"You start from your own experience. What I brought ... was my own story. And we live in a country where every individual can do that," Jean said.
"That's why we need to work on our sense of belonging. And belonging goes beyond the ability to name the Mackenzie River and say where it is. It goes far beyond that."
That view of shared citizenship was illustrated last week by images of a Haitian-born Governor General participating enthusiastically in an Inuit skinning ritual.
Jean noted afterward that she was born in a place where meat is always well-cooked and eating it raw would be unthinkable - but there she was, defending seal-hunters and applauding Inuit traditions.
So does she know Canada now?