The discussion surrounding the commercial seal hunt has for many decades revolved around the well-being of individual seals and claims of cruelty have long been the centrepiece of opposition towards the hunt. This opposition stands in contrast to the acceptance of Inuit or indigenous seal hunts irrespective of the numbers of seals hunted and animal welfare considerations. This is based on the high cultural and utilitarian value a seal represents in Inuit society and culture and this narrative has equally found its way into political processes and legislation, such as the recent ban on trade in seal products on the European internal market, Regulation 1007/2009 on Trade in Seal Products.
This Briefing Note claims that the utilization of seal stemming from commercial hunts in Newfoundland, where the largest commercial seal hunt is conducted, goes beyond the notion of commercialisation and represents a cultural, utilitarian and identity-giving means while being an important element in the social cohesion of the island’s coastal communities. It claims that the discourse on seals and sealing is biased as it does not consider cultural and social elements of the hunt and the industry. Results stem from fieldwork conducted in April, May and November 2013 in the communities of Woodstock, Blaketown and South Dildo, Newfoundland.
Karen Everett & Heather Nicol
There have been differing visions for the future of Canada’s north and the role of resource development in Canada’s nation-building project. While for some, resource extraction is the ‘magic bullet’, for others there is also the fear that rather than being the solution to economic development problems, resource extraction activities may prove detrimental to the economic health of many northern communities. Beginning with the 1970s, indigenous leaders have urged the federal government to increase cooperation with local populations, especially in terms of facilitating equitable benefits of economic development, social services, education, and health, environmental protection. But there is a continuing resistance of government agencies to facilitate northern indigenous populations’ control over their resources and a general failure of those who envision the future for Canadianists more generally to engage with economic development strategies. This paper assesses recent attempts towards co-management of resource development in the context of new rounds of development pressures on the Canadian North, situating part of the problem in the degree to which a scholarship in general has failed to move beyond the convenient but rather simplistic understanding of the North as ‘frontier/homeland’.