Humane Society International says it doesn’t oppose Inuit subsistence sealing

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

This image released by Ellen DeGeneres shows actors (front row from left) Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Peter Nyong’o Jr., and (second row from left) Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong’o and Angelina Jolie as they pose for a “selfie” portrait on a cellphone during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday, March 2 in Los Angeles.
— Photo by the Canadian Press/AP/Ellen DeGeneres

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.”

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.”

Organizations: Humane Society of the United States, Samsung

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada, Nunavut, Iqaluit

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  • Non aborignal
    April 08, 2014 - 20:20

    Ms.Aldworth do you even know what you are talking about,newfoundlanders along with all Canadians should boycott all Ellens shows.The only work she knows is making fun off people,did you not see the show with the lady from Kilbride Nl all she done was mock her.Let me ask you now you think she know anything about this seal hunt I doubt it send her out on the ice like Heather did and take a photo with the cute seals,these seals would eat everything in our ocean if there was no hunt.These selfies you are talking about had very nice seal skin coats on,do you think the aboriginal only hunt seal for their meat.Again what's the difference between aboriginal and non aboriginal hunting seal.Ellen should pump her money into the USA to help the homeless and the hungry.

  • Ridiculous
    April 08, 2014 - 20:20

    Will Aldworth , HSUS, IFAW be deciding which Aboriginal groups will get a pass regards having their permission to sell seal products. Will they be deciding who is "aboriginal and traditional enough" After all , there are thousands of white looking people waiting for aboriginal status in Newfoundland...10s of thousands actually. Will they get a pass. The animal rights groups against sealing are getting into the very murky waters of race baiting.....shameful, but they will go low. Seems Inuit have forced this issue and the animal rights groups against sealing don't know what to do, they have finally met their match on this issue. If Inuit keep up the #sealfie campaign HSUS IFAW and PETA will lose the A list celebrity endorsements and $

  • Fred
    April 08, 2014 - 18:49

    Glad to hear it....I don't oppose Humane Society sealing either.