Commercial Seal Hunt – Canada’s Shame

In 1893, Rudyard Kipling wrote a short story called “The White Seal.” It was about Kotick, an albino seal, born on a Bering Sea island that belonged to the Russian Empire. One day Kotick witnessed the massacre of a heard of seals by local hunters:

“Ten or twelve men, each with an iron-bound club three or four feet long, came up… and then the men clubbed the seals on the head as fast as they could. Ten minutes later little Kotick did not recognize his friends any more, for their skins were ripped off from the nose to the hind flippers, whipped off and thrown down on the ground in a pile.”

One hundred and twenty-five years later, on the Canadian East Coast, the barbaric murder of tens of thousands of harp seals is still being done in pretty much the same way. Even though there is no real economic need for it, even though the European Union, the US, Russia and even China stopped buying Canadian seal products, this absurd, bloody and cruel ritual goes on under the name of the commercial seal hunt. It costs much more than it earns, and seal-fur dealers openly admit that they stockpile the pelts because they can’t sell them. Then why?

The official excuses for continuing this senseless massacre are the “pride in the tradition” (as if the mass slaughter of defenseless, trusting animals was something to be proud of), depletion of the cod stocks (for which the fishing industry itself is actually to blame), and the need to preserve the sealers’ jobs (if re-training wasn’t an option, we would still have the slave trade).

Canada prides itself on its enlightened, progressive attitudes. Alas, they do not apply to the shot, clubbed and skinned (sometimes when still alive) young harp seals. Every Canadian government, Liberal or Conservative, has refused to deal once and for all with this painful issue that damages Canada’s international reputation. If only Kotick could really lead his mates to a save haven in the South Seas, like in Kipling’s story! Short of this miracle, the only hope for the murdered thousands of Canadian seals lies in us, conscientious, compassionate humans. By constantly demanding from our government a complete ban of the commercial seal hunt, perhaps one day we will give the seals their birthright of living in peace.

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Mariusz Wesolowski

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Aleksander Rybczynski – Poetic Diaries

[excerpt]

like every spring
around the Magdalen Islands
in Canada cruel hunts for a few-weeks-old
seals take place – the hunters’ cudgels
cover white stretches of ice with bloody
stains of disgrace in the colours of the national flag
waved by the proud and humane leader of Western civilisation
nobody buys anymore the furs of young seals
who did not even know the joy of plunging deeply
into the ocean helpless they cannot swim yet
so the hunt is a crude slaughter on ice
it leaves behind gutted and bloody shreds
to be washed off by the waves
of global warming sealers
will return from the hunt
happy with the work done
they followed the law and conscience
of the self-satisfied citizens of the maple leaf country
which obscures the air and hues
of autumn with a veil of innocent blood
from the beings bludgeoned to death
in an icy wilderness

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Videos: Alek Rybczyński, Marketa Schusterova

Fot.: Hanka Kościelska

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