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NTI Makes Presentation to Parliamentary Committee

NR 07-04 SEA ENG Standing Committee Presentation on Sealing.doc

(February 15, 2007 – Rankin Inlet, Nunavut) Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. 2nd Vice-President Raymond Ningeocheak appeared before Parliament’s Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans earlier this month. The committee is studying Canada’s seal hunt and invited NTI, as well as Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, to make presentations to better understand the significance of the Inuit seal harvest.

Ningeocheak spoke about the historical and current importance of the seal harvest to Inuit, and he stressed the negative impact anti-sealing campaigns continue to have on Inuit hunters and the economy in Nunavut.

For thousands of years, Inuit have relied on seals in a major way. Seals fed Inuit and helped keep our dogs alive. We used their skins as clothing. Oil from seal fat kept Inuit warm and lit our dwellings. We also used seal bones and seal fur for arts and crafts. If it was not for the seal, I would not be speaking to you today, said Ningeocheak.

Ningeocheak told the committee the campaigns of anti-fur activists destroyed the sealskin economy in the 1980s, but the market had experienced an increase in sales in recent years. In 2006, Inuit hunters earned an estimated $530,000 in income by exporting more than 6,000 raw seal pelts. This harvest is significantly lower than historical numbers.

This industry is starting to bring back the independence Inuit once knew. In the past, we experienced a significant loss in income and could not finance our harvesting activities. This gave rise to a number of social problems we still live with today, he said.

The standing committee members were impressed with the presentations and noted that Canada’s seal harvest is an issue the country needs to address as a nation, and not on a regional basis. Inuit leaders were invited to travel overseas with the next Government of Canada delegation to discuss the seal hunt with the European Union.

Students enrolled in the Nunavut Sivuniksavut program dressed in sealskin and were on hand to participate in the presentation.

For further information:

Kerry McCluskey
Director of Communications
Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated
Tel: (867) 975-4914 Toll-free: 1-888-646-0006