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Challenging misconceptions about the seal hunt

Caring about the welfare of animals is important. But the passion for protecting animals among many living south of the 49th parallel, who aren’t aware of the lives Inuit people lead, can have a negative effect.

Animal welfare organizations have worked hard to put a stop to the hunt. These organizations push an anti-seal hunt message without knowing that Inuit have been hunting seals for generations, that it’s an important part of their livelihoods and sustenance, that they respect the life the animals give them and make sure not to waste any part of the seal.

International cosmetics company Lush got on board with anti-seal hunt campaigning back in 2009. Their campaign was in collaboration with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an organization that has used unpopular activist methods to protect marine wildlife.

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Lush’s website promoted some of the widely held misconceptions about the seal hunt. For example, it stated that the hunt “needlessly claims the lives of hundreds of thousands of baby harp seals, 98 per cent of which are younger than three months old.” Harvesting baby seals has been illegal since 1987. The company also didn’t seem to know that ending the seal hunt would be devastating for Inuit people.

Recently, Lush’s stance on the hunt made the rounds on the internet and the company faced some serious backlash for it. Since then, the company has updated its website with an apology.

Lush’s ignorance is one example of the misunderstanding that’s out there. To combat this,  Alethea Arnaquq-Baril created the film Angry Inuk.

With the film, Arnaquq-Baril wants to make it clear that anti-sealing activism has created the perception of the seal hunt industry that completely ignores how important it is for Inuit communities.

Angry Inuk has made waves. It won the people’s choice award at Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival and was selected as one of the Canadian-made films to be shown at the Toronto International Film Festival, ensuring Arnaquq-Baril’s message is being seen and heard. However well-meaning organizations, activists and their celebrity supporters may be, they’re still causing damage to the Inuit and their way of life.

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