KUUJJUAQ, Que. -
Her globally televised seal-eating episode may have been a distraction initially, but the Governor General says in the end it will help promote better understanding of the North.
Michaelle Jean had arrived in the Arctic with an unusually political demand for a university there, and expressed hope southerners would take note of the desperate needs in education and infrastructure.
Her week-long trip certainly got noticed - but all anyone wanted to talk about was the vice-regal visitor munching on a slice of seal heart during an Inuit community feast.
The blood-soaked images prompted so much debate, in fact, that the Rideau Hall press office says they generated more news clippings around the world than her meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama.
But what about those other things she spent the week discussing - like the 25 per cent high-school graduation rate in Nunavut, the search for economic hope in a place with a 58 per cent employment rate?
Jean sees a silver lining to the seal-skinning sensation: at least people noticed the Arctic, and spent time thinking about its people. She ended her trip expressing hope Monday that the country will continue paying attention.
"Did the seal take up all the space?" Jean said, laughing.
"My motto is breaking down solitudes. ... It provoked, I think, a big discussion in the country. And I think that is part of some new awareness. ... I hope it is."
The government of Nunavut seized on all the headlines to urge more southerners to try their food - such as the muskox ribs, Arctic char, goose, caribou and seal served to the Governor General.
The problem with an Inuit food industry is there are no roads or ports linking the Arctic to the rest of the country, despite repeated calls for some by territorial leaders.