It is probably the weirdest news of the year. At a community feast in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, Canada on May 25, 2009, the Canadian Governor-General Michaelle Jean helped an Inuit elder skin two seals and she and her husband Jean-Daniel Lafond later ate the raw seal’s heart and arctic char in solidarity with traditional fish and seal hunts. On the Governor General’s final official visit to the Arctic, she used a traditional blade to cut the seal and asked the owner, “Could I try the heart”? And then she did.
Wiping her bloody fingers with a tissue, Jean said it is difficult to believe anyone would characterize the traditional hunting practices as inhumane. The graphic and perhaps disgusting (literally, not metaphorically) act was a direct slap in the face of the European Union, which had earlier called the seal hunt “inherently inhumane” and banned it. Although the vote was overwhelming in Europe, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper protested that the seal hunt is not any more inhumane than the accepted, legal slaughter of animals in the EU.
Canada, Greenland and Namibia kill 60 percent of the 900,000 seals slain each year. Other seal-hunting countries include Norway, Iceland, Russia and the United States. The above photo is by Sean Kilpatrick, covering for The Canadian Press.