PETA's anti-commercial sealing videos 'devastating' to Inuit, critic says

Slow climb back for Nunavut's seal export industry after exemption from EU import ban

One of the most prominent Inuit sealing advocates says a new anti-commercial sealing video from PETA continues "devastating" negative stereotypes against the industry.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released a video on social media Monday with graphic images of the commercial seal hunt on Canada's East Coast. The post includes a link to an online petition calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to end federal subsidies for seal hunters.  

Aaju Peter, an Inuk sealskin-seamstress and subject of the documentary Angry Inuk, says PETA's facts are misleading and continue a long anti-sealing message from animal rights groups.  

"It creates a bad taste and a bad image when PETA says baby seals are slaughtered," Peter said. "They're not babies. Human beings have babies. They are seal pups and they're old enough to be harvested."

"These videos are devastating for our communities," she said

PETA has long-advocated for ending the commercial seal hunt off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, but says it supports Inuit hunters who hunt seal for their communities.

"The commercial seal slaughter has nothing whatsoever to do with the Inuit sustenance hunt," said Ashley Byrne, a PETA spokeswoman. She said PETA supports re-training hunters involved in the seal hunt.

"The Canadian government hides behind Native people in a dishonest attempt to justify the commercial slaughter, but they are not the same."   

But Peter challenges this, saying PETA's efforts to marginalize sealers hurts Inuit hunters who cannot make money from their hunt. She's calling on Northerners to write to the prime minister as well, telling their side of the story.

"[PETA] says there is no market. They crushed the market," she said. "They made life very, very difficult."