Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Around the Arctic May 03, 2013 - 9:24 am

No Seal, No Deal petition explained

NUNATSIAQ NEWS

My name is Karliin Aariak. I am a Canadian and I am an Inuk. I am passionate about the importance of seal harvesting, the seal industry, and seal trade to Inuit.

For thousands of years, Inuit have relied on seals to survive, and we continue to do so. Respecting wildlife has always been an important traditional practice for Inuit. Daily, we demonstrate this respect by harvesting and using all parts of the seal, whether it is for food, clothing, heat, tools, games for our children, and most recently, in jewelry and artwork.

In recent history, starting in the 1960s, Inuit were directly and negatively affected by a number of animal rights groups and organizations that were misinformed, and misinforming others, about seal harvesting and use, and the seal industry in Nunavut and in other parts of Canada.

The information they continue to present to this day is misleading and often simply untrue.

All Canadians and the international community must be informed about how such efforts to misguide the public and decision-makers are harming Inuit.

In a territory where poverty and unemployment are high and economic opportunities are few, the seal industry is not only part of the cultural fabric, it is also a crucial part of maintaining self-reliant and environmentally sustainable communities.

Most recently, these groups and organizations have gone as far as to pressure elected officials into banning the import of seal products into their countries. This happened in 2009 in the European Union where all seal products are now banned from entering into the European Union market.

This is the very same European Union that is now applying for observer status to a political circumpolar organization called the Arctic Council.

Consequently, the European Union’s efforts to destroy the seal trade, negatively impacting Inuit in the process, are in direct conflict with the criteria required to belong to the Arctic Council. The European Union’s ban of seal products is disruptive to the seal industry and to Inuit culture. It is a violation of our human rights as a people.

As a citizen of Canada, a country that is a permanent member of the Arctic Council, I have developed a petition urging the House of Commons in Ottawa to refuse all applications for observer status to the Arctic Council from the European Union and any of its member states, institutions, and organizations until such time as the European Union completely terminates and lifts the seal ban it imposed in 2009.

A second petition will also be presented to the Arctic Council requesting permanent states and permanent members to refuse all applications for observer status to the Arctic Council from the European Union and any of its member states, institutions, and organizations until such time as the European Union completely terminates and lifts the seal ban it imposed in 2009.

To obtain a copy of the petitions and for more information, visit http://www.inuitsealing.org.

Sign the petition to demonstrate your support and urge others to educate themselves about the intricate relationship between Inuit and the seal, our role as Canadian citizens and circumpolar nations, and about the economic, cultural and legal implications of banning seal products.

Karliin Aariak
Iqaluit



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