Filed under: Animal rights, Environmentalism, Food, Newfoundland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Newfoundland seal hunt, Paul McCartney, Seal Hunt, Sir Paul McCartney, Unemployment | Tags: Animal rights, Environment, Environmentalism, Environmentalist, Environmentalists, Food, Newfoundland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Newfoundland seal hunt, Paul McCartney, Seal Hunt, Sir Paul McCartney, Unemployment
By Ian Hussey
My dad, Donald John Hussey, grew up on Bell Island, Newfoundland. He was born a couple years before Newfoundland joined the Canadian federation in 1949, which is why I consider myself a half-Newfie, half-Canadian ;). Dad’s dad, Stanley (from whom I proudly take my middle-name), worked as a miner in Wabana, an iron ore mine on Bell Island no longer in operation.
I’ve been watching the development and framing of the issue of the Newfoundland seal hunt on the television news and reading about it in the papers and on-line. And writing this post, I’ve got tears running down my cheeks. Newfoundlanders are a proud people. We aren’t perfect, but we try to be honest and, when we can find work, we work hard and thank our stars for the opportunity.
I was going to write that I am conflicted about the Newfoundland seal hunt. I’m proud of my Newfoundland and Nova Scotia heritage (my mom grew up on a farm just outside Middleton, NS, and I grew up in Hantsport, NS). Yet, I am a vegetarian; I even went vegan for a short stint. It was one of the hardest decisions of my life to give up eating seafood. The sea and seafood are a huge part of my culture. But, I made a personal choice to give up eating seafood – this was after my older brother Graeme had been a vegetarian for a while. I don’t regret that decision. I’m privileged enough to have the choice in what I eat and I’ve never been in want of food, thank goodness. I don’t judge people who eat meat or seafood or dairy or dog. Personal choice is personal choice, and people’s culture is their culture, and sometimes people don’t have a choice in what they eat – they’re just happy to have something to eat at all. I’m not about to go to Alberta and tell the meat-lovers there they shouldn’t enjoy Alberta beef, nor am I going to tell people in British Columbia not to eat salmon (but if they choose to eat salmon, I hope it isn’t factory farmed), nor am I going to tell people in Manitoba not to eat bison, nor am I going to tell Quebeckers not to eat cheese (especially since Quebec cheeses are so darn tasty!), nor am I going to tell Newfoundlanders not to eat seal.
No, I’m not conflicted about the Newfoundland seal hunt. I saw images of protesters in Washington, DC chanting “shame” on Newfoundland and Canada. I saw a video conference conversation between Sir Paul McCartney and Newfoundland and Labrador’s Premier, Danny Williams (where Sir Paul said he was in NFLD, and Danny pointed out that Sir Paul was actually on Prince Edward Island. Wrong island, Sir Paul, wrong island). I saw a Newfoundland man starved for work, who participates in the seal hunt, tell a CBC reporter something to the effect that of course he felt sympathy for the seals because, after all, he is human. I saw a teacher in Toronto, who grew up in Newfoundland, brought to tears when the same CBC reporter asked her about the seal hunt. She spoke about the tough times so many Newfoundlanders wake up facing each and every day. She spoke eloquently and proudly. She spoke with a lovely, thick Newfoundland accent.
I’d like to offer the protesters of the Newfoundland seal hunt a small bit of activist advice. If you want to end the Newfoundland seal hunt, chanting “shame” ain’t gonna cut it. Why don’t you try working to end poverty in Newfoundland and Labrador instead?
Shame on Newfoundland? Shame on you for making the good people of Newfoundland feel bad for trying to make ends meat (no pun intended). And, Sir Paul, the sweatshirt with “Canada” on the front of it you wore in that video conference with Premier Danny Williams was made in a sweatshop. Shame on you, too.
So, my Newfoundland brothers and sisters, hold your heads up high. Better days are on the horizon.
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