Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut May 18, 2016 - 7:00 am

Ottawa opens call for DFO’s seal product marketing fund

Applicants can start sending proposal applications to DFO

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
Canadian-made seal skin coats on display during Seal Day on the Hill at  Parliament Hill in Ottawa May 1. (PHOTO COURTESY OF HUNTER TOOTOO/TWITTER)
Canadian-made seal skin coats on display during Seal Day on the Hill at Parliament Hill in Ottawa May 1. (PHOTO COURTESY OF HUNTER TOOTOO/TWITTER)

As the federal government marked Seal Day on the Hill May 17, Fisheries Minister Hunter Tootoo opened a call for proposals for a new fund to help Indigenous communities market seal skin products to the world.

The $5.7 million fund, called Certification and Market Access Program for Seals, or CMAPS, was first announced by the former Conservative government in early 2015.

“Many Inuit communities rely on income generated from the sale of sealskin products to foreign markets,” said Hunter Tootoo, Nunavut MP and minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.

“Our government is committed to supporting their efforts and helping Inuit communities to grow this important industry, which creates jobs and supports Inuit culture.”

Ottawa and Nunavut signed a deal for the territory’s share of the funds earlier this year.

The five-year program has established a tracking system to ensure products harvested by Indigenous communities are certified for sale in the European Union.

While the EU has banned the importation of sealskin products, it made an exception for products harvested by Indigenous communities.

Currently, Nunavut’s Department of Environment is the only recognized body in Canada designated to certify that seals harvested in Nunavut meet the requirement of the EU Regulation under the Indigenous exemption.

The money would also be used to help Inuit across the Arctic start small businesses based on sealing and find new markets for seal products.

Applications to obtain CMAPS funding should outline a project description and objective, including a timeline and budget that includes all additional funding sources.

Applications and inquiries should be emailed to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

This year, another federal department, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, partnered with the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association to celebrate Seal Day on the Hill.

The event featured Canadian-harvested and crafted seal skin products.

Seal harvesting is an important part of the traditional way of life in Canada’s North, INAC said in a statement.

“It is a valuable source of food and income for thousands of Indigenous and non-Indigenous families in remote coastal communities in the Arctic, Quebec and Atlantic Canada,” the statement said.

“A vibrant Inuit cultural industry supporting the production and sale of clothing, fashion, art and other products is also deeply linked to sealing. Sealing is also about health; in addition to the high nutritional value of seal meat, Inuit have been using seal oil to treat ailments for centuries.

“Our seal industry fuels an economy that works for everyone and the Government of Canada believes that it deserves to be protected and promoted.”

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