Monday, April 6, 2009

I wrote this

now you read it.

It is for First Nation's Voice, a monthly publication of the Winnipeg Free Press, reaching 90,000 readers.

Sometimes, when an outside source asks for a story from APTN, our kind producers say, "Shit, Kent will do it, he likes that stuff. You want something from Nunavut?"

And the person asking for the story will go, "Nunavut, hells yes, we'd like something from Nunavut."

I went after PETA for their stupid Inuksuk campaign, and took a few kicks at reliable kicking target "Captain" Paul Watson.

Then I had Inflatable Elvis and Port Town Ghosts read it over for me. Elvis sharpened my sticks and PTG directed my narrative flow. Both helped a lot.

Here it is. You should totally click the link, because they have a different bio photo that they shot (oh, the glamour of being a TV personaility)I like my self-description at the end, and it ran intact...

and I share a page with former Canuck tough guy Gino Odjick... which is cool.

Re-Printed without any sort of permission at all from the kind folks at the Free Press:

War on Tradition

By Kent Driscoll
APTN National News – Iqaluit

Despite what People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals may tell you, no one in Nunavut uses a hakapik to hunt seals. The Government of Nunavut even pushed for a ban on the East Coast favorite, because it was a more useful tool in the hands of agenda pushing activists than those of hunters killing seals.

PETA knows this, but that didn’t stop them from using one of Nunavut’s most enduring symbols – the Inukshuk – in their propaganda this year. In one of their latest campaigns, they’ve co-opted the multi-coloured symbol of the Vancouver Games and set it to killing a seal with a hakapik.

For a group with the word “ethical” in their title, that is pretty disingenuous.

There is a vote coming up on the import of seal skins into the European Union. There is a small provision for the exemption of seal pelts that are used ceremonially, but if passed, it will serve to bludgeon Nunavut’s seal skin industry by banning the sale of pelts in the EU.

APTN National News recently interviewed Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak about the European Union’s proposed seal skin ban.

“Is this a case of them not understanding, or is this a case of your positions being so far apart that nothing can solve it?” I asked her.

Aariak answered diplomatically, pointing to further education and lobbying. “We need to really help to educate people, how we use the seals, how it helps our economy as well. We need to do that at all levels, to every country. There can never be enough information about how much sealing means to Canadians,” she said.

This is the standard line of reasoning from the Government of Nunavut: if you teach them, they will understand. But while Aariak is holding out faith in the Europeans, there is no reason to hold out faith for PETA, or the Sea Shepherd society, or the scores of other anti-sealing groups, who annually do their low rent chicken-man dance for the press.

PETA may be culturally insensitive and overwrought; the Sea Shepherd society takes first place for epic hyperbole. Earlier this year “Captain” Paul Watson – just before he took off to ram Japanese whaling ships – got into an online brawl with Terry Audla from the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, over the culling of 500 whales trapped in the ice near Pond Inlet on the northeast tip of Baffin Island.

“Every man who pulled a trigger on those whales is no different than the men who slaughtered the defenseless people in the pit at My Lai, Vietnam,” Watson wrote.

Audla wrote back that he was going home to enjoy some fresh whale meat with his family.

Here in Nunavut, the Inukshuk isn’t just a logo. It is the symbol of a people who have defied the odds and survived life in the Arctic. The seal isn’t fur profit. It is a home cooked meal, a break from astronomical grocery costs, warm winter clothing, and cultural history.

“Canada’s annual war on seals”, is what PETA calls it. It should be called “animal rights activists’ annual war on Inuit tradition.”

Audla and Aariak are both opting for a diplomatic approach; one has to wonder how you go about educating with so much prejudice arrayed against you.

Kent Driscoll is the Nunavut Reporter for APTN National News, and lives in Iqaluit. He can’t hunt to save his life, but thinks seals are both tasty and warm to wear.