No discussion about the modern seal hunt is complete without acknowledging its role in Canada’s diverse culture, history, and settlement.
The Inuit have been hunting seal for over 4,000 years. Seals were one of the most valuable animals in a challenging landscape — every part of the animal was relied upon: the pelt for warm, waterproof clothing, boots, and shelter; the leather and sinew for harnesses; fat/oil for heat and light; and meat to feed themselves.
The seal hunt on Canada’s east coast has a shorter history “500 years” — but it is one that reaches through generations, and is integral to the culture and economy of many coastal communities. Seal meat is enjoyed, the oils provide scientifically proven health benefits, the leather and furs are prized, and its potential is limitless
But seal represents more than subsistence: the hunt is central to indigenous and coastal culture, sharing customs, and skills and values passed from generation to generation. It is also about connection to the land, its resources, and the wider ecosystem. Over time, seals took on commercial importance as export products too, crucial to the survival of communities.
Sealing, for both its traditions and its value as a commercial enterprise, sustains communities culturally and economically. This should be understood, and respected.