Seal meat may be a relatively new delicacy in the repertoire of some of Canada’s top chefs—but of course it’s long been a staple in many parts of the country.
That heritage is what First Light will be sharing and celebrating during their community cultural circle and feast during Seal Fest 2020.
First Light Friendship Centre in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, is part of a network of Friendship Centres that serves Canada’s urban Indigenous population. First Light operates over 30 diverse programs in arts, performance, culture, health, education and childcare, among others.
Although First Light works primarily with Mi’kmaq, Inuit and Innu populations, programs and services are open to all, making the Friendship Centre an important and welcoming resource to the entire local community.
“And we are all really passionate about seal food and the seal hunt, and we’re really passionate about sustainability in the seal industry,” says Jenelle Duval, First Light’s Arts and Culture Coordinator.
“We have a really strong urban Inuit population here, one of the fastest rising in the country outside of Ottawa. We see a lot of interaction between people and seals—eating it and wearing it and rendering oil for Kullik [traditional seal-oil lamps].” Any seal-related events the Centre holds always fill quickly.
“We are all especially keen to ensure advocacy work is happening to show just how important hunting seal is to Inuit populations for food security.”
Duval says First Light is delighted to be part of a culinary Seal Fest. Their event will be a community culture circle, craft-making and feast, and is sure to be a Seal Fest highlight for anyone lucky enough to attend.
“It will be an opportunity for all interested folks to come in and talk about Inuit culture as it pertains to seal and food security, and then make a cool seal skin craft,” she says.
Then it will be time to eat: First Light’s cook, Donna Whitten. will be preparing and sharing her seal flipper pie—seal flippers and vegetables in gravy covered with pastry.
“Donna’s pie and pasty is famous around here,” Duval says. “No one will want to miss it.”
First Light’s Community Cultural Circle, crafting, and feast is scheduled for March 25, 6 p.m. At First Light Friendship Centre, 716 Water St., St. John’s. Space is limited. Pre-registration is required and will be available through https://www.facebook.com/FirstLightNL/
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