It was recently announced that Canada will spend $150,000 CND to "better promote" Canada's northern sealing industry. It's the first installation of the five-year, $5.7 million Certification and Market Access Program for Seals.
The idea is to take advantage of the European Union's ban on seal products exempting products derived from the "subsistence," or "traditional," or "aboriginal" seal hunt (see Nunavut's exemption) as conducted in Nunavut: a vast region encompassing much of arctic and subarctic Canada.
Ironically, the relatively minor northern "subsistence" hunt was never targeted by the international protest movement against commercial seal hunts. Hundreds of thousands of seals are killed annually in mass slaughters of harp seal pups on the ice floes off of Canada's east coast early each spring. Originally, seal oil was the main product, but that shifted to the white pelts of newly born harp seals. Most of the animal was wasted, and to this day, finding international markets for various seal products remains an uphill battle.
The Nunavut (at that time, the Northwest Territories) hunt usually doesn't involve harp seals, being mostly directed at ringed seals: a species that does not even occur where the commercial slaughter takes place. Originally, it really was "subsistence" hunting, not commercial, and provided food and clothing for a people superbly adapted to survive in an incredibly harsh landscape that became the grave of so many European explorers.
Eventually, Canada banned the killing of the un-weaned harp seal pups, and even protected the increasingly rare hooded seals, also killed in the commercial hunt. However, as soon as the harps are weaned, at around two weeks of age, they can be shot or bludgeoned by licensed sealers (and are, in the thousands, but not the hundreds of thousands of previous decades). By all indications, they are killed at greater numbers than market demands, and the whole business depends on various forms of subsidy and illusion.
Knowing from surveys that people who object to killing for profit are likely to be supportive of the aboriginal hunt, the government and industry conflated the two hunts as though they were all part of the same undertaking. If implemented, the international demand to stop the commercial hunt would have conveyed a monopolistic advantage to the Nunavut hunt-no subsidies needed.
The subsidy is aimed at selling craft and novelty items, like the sealskin bowtie worn during a White House reception by Canadian fisheries minister Hunter Tootoo as an expression of Inuit "culture."
I suppose the sporran, the purse-like bag worn with the Scottish kilt, is part of Inuit culture, since sealskin sporrans are being marketed (along with dolls and anything else that can be made from the skin of any kind of seal).
It is very sad on so many levels, but the narrative is set. The illusion that we are somehow helping our native people holds-as long as harp and ringed seals, both experiencing shrinking viable habitat due to rapid climate change, exist to be killed.
Keep wildlife in the wild,