Friday, November 2, 2007

Save the Baby Veal

This poster and attached story garnered me a nomination in the OCNA (Ontario Community Newspaper Association) awards. I lost to a story about apple juice.... it was a good story.

Seal of disapproval

Kent Driscoll

Iqaluit (Mar 20/06) - It took a high-profile rock star with an agenda to bring out the edge in Murray Angus.

In response to Paul and Heather McCartney's trip to Prince Edward Island - to oppose Newfoundland's annual seal harvest - Angus brought the double barrels of irony and humour to the fight.

The McCartneys used the trip to protest against the annual harvest of seals on Canada's east coast. Angus feels they are ignoring the importance of the seal to Inuit.

"There is a presumption that people make, that the southern ways are the best. People in the south need to learn some humility and show respect," said Angus, who is an instructor at Nunavut Sivuniksavut (NS) in Ottawa.

Angus emphasized that the poster was not a school project, but simply a personal one. He has received requests from Newfoundland, Greenland and the Yukon for copies.

The poster poses the question: Is killing a wild seal less humane than raising a cow in a closed pen to keep its meat tender?

Tommy Akulukjuk, an NS student, posed for the poster, and isn't shy on humour.

First, he requests that this reporter refer to him as "Sir Tommy Akulukjuk" in this story, so that he is on equal footing with Sir Paul McCartney. He also wisecracks that he would like to see "Inuitmania" spread worldwide, so that he would have as much say as the outspoken musician.

"At first, I was pretty angry. It gave me a new perspective on famous people," said Akulukjuk.

"I think humour can be a weapon for us in this. It is like racism and American comedians. They use it to say a lot."

For Angus, the inspiration for the poster comes from an incident years ago, when Brigitte Bardot made the same trip to the ice floe.

"It was an idea I had 15 years ago, and when I saw the pics of the McCartneys, I thought it was like Bardot in the 1970s. With e-mail, it doesn't take long for this kind of thing to spread," said Angus.

As for Akulukjuk, he'll be looking at the Beatles in a different light. "I think I'll listen to the John Lennon songs from now on," said Akulukjuk.

Former Nunavut commissioner Peter Irniq said the rock star may have killed the baby seal. "You know how birds abandon their eggs after humans have touched them?" Irniq said.

"It's that funny human smell. Seals are only able to find their babies from their smell, among other seals on the ice. Paul and Heather touched the seal, we all saw it on TV. The mother probably abandoned the baby seal. It's probably dead by now.

"That is why, when we are out seal hunting through the seal holes in the spring time, we sometimes put 'things,' smelly things, like gerry cans, so that when the seal sees it, it will abandon the seal hole. That way, it's easier to catch the seals."