The Seal Hunt – Waking Up From Our National Nightmare
By Shannon Alberta, Guest Contributor
Despite not being prone to nightmares, last night I was afflicted by one of extreme intensity. Bolting straight up in bed, I wiped my hand against the slickness of my forehead and attempted to draw several deep breaths. While the overwhelming feeling of horror shrouded my heart like my comforter did my damp limbs, the minutiae of this night terror returned to me in pieces and waves.
I dreamt I lived in a country I was told was mine, but I knew it wasn’t so. It wasn’t that I didn’t recognize it, as the geography appeared identical, the landscapes untouched. Like a geographical form of Capgras syndrome, I was constantly assured this was in fact my home, via street signs and familiar faces, but I remained certain some sort of mistake was being made. For starters, despite ‘my’ country espousing the benefits of a democratic system to the public, the head of state was in the bizarre habit of merely shutting down Parliament when he didn’t feel like being held accountable for his actions. The food system was becoming increasingly corporatized, consolidated and vertically integrated, despite the palpable problem of food insecurity. Tap water was being bottled in virgin plastic and sold back to the consumer at an absurd profit. This impostor country provided the ground upon which a $1 billion boys club ‘summit’ was held, where the ‘Haves’ discussed how to widen the already oceanic-sized disparity between them and the ‘Have-Nots’. Whenever I broached these discrepancies with others, I was reminded that it was my civic duty to be proud of the country I grew up in, that this was the status quo. I felt terrified and confused.
This impostor country I dreamt I lived in had those same three brilliant coastlines, and all the same magnificent creatures that dwelled in, on, and between their shores. One species in particular elicited a profound fascination from within me, captivating me with the pure majesty of their force, journeying through the ocean. I dreamt that just like in the country I recognized as my own, these creatures left almost all those who happened upon them in total surrender.
Tragically, in this impostor country, these intelligent, unique creatures continually found themselves on the wrong end of a blunt instrument, being murdered for the very ‘beauty’ I myself was mesmerized by. While most of us would never dream of interfering with their sacred lives in any way, a determined few responded to their beauty in an abhorrent manner, desiring their fur, worn as a symbol of domination and wealth.
The impostor country partook in this wickedness, but unlike other countries in the world that attempted to deny (or at least keep clandestine) their embarrassing and cruel practices, this country actually feigned pride in it, even remarking that it is a part of ‘our’ national identity. Something had to be wrong. Whose national identity? Whose nation? Not mine! My landscapes were the raw earth in which I cultivated an unwavering respect for all living things. Whose country did I find myself trapped in, and most importantly– how would I ever get home again?
All political parties across the country (and the political spectrum), with the exception of one, endorsed the mass killings, because somehow it was seen as challenging the very essence of the nation to do anything else. In a particularly macabre media spectacle, the government of ‘my’ country, harking back to some more archaic time, had one of their highest ranking officials consume the heart of this beloved creature to display ‘solidarity’ with the brutes responsible for this practice, who were said to be simply upholding an important tradition. While I found myself in utter disbelief, I could almost hear the mainstream media heaving their collective sigh of relief that these explanations ensured the matter did not need to be discussed or considered any further. Hidden behind the inaccurate narrative of ‘subsistence livelihoods’, was a hellish industry built on exploitation that was worth neither the economic subsidies nor the damaging international reputation it was responsible for earning. Unlike my country, this impostor country had a government that stuck it’s nose in the air at the overwhelming majority of their citizens who, despite the efforts to sway them, openly opposed this ‘tradition’.
As the legitimacy of this practice became more and more questioned, I witnessed the emergence of an increasingly pathetic intellectual discourse defending it, comprised of unhealthy levels of both cognitive dissonance and desperation. This culminated in the asinine attempt to conveniently blame these beings for the depleted population of a fish that this country just so happened to have fished to near extinction decades earlier. The last thing I remember before being thrown from sleep, was the decision made by the impostor country’s leader. He increased the legal limit for how many of these beautiful creatures could be senselessly bludgeoned to death for as little as $15 a pelt. Despite not having the support of his own people, he ensured hundreds of thousands of defenseless attacks in only a couple hundred hours.
After soothing myself back into a state where sleep was even possible, my dream continued. In it, those feelings of respect and sheer appreciation for the intrinsic worth of these animals that me and so many others felt, translated into peremptory action. In it, we demanded an end to a cruel, barbaric and embarrassing practice because we could not (and would not) function while such an unnecessary amount of suffering marred our landscapes. I dreamt that our voices got so damn loud, and our song so impossible to tune out, that the determined few had no choice but to sing along. And it was then, surrounded by the warmth of pure empathy between human and non-human animals, that I started to recognize this wondrous place as my home, once again.
Please take action:
Humane Society International (Canada) has helped saved thousand’s of seals by disrupting seal markets around the world with their unwavering presence and documentation. If you can, donating a small amount to HSI will allow them to continue doing the fine work they do, representing over 70% of Canadians who are entirely OPPOSED to the seal hunt. Please consider making a donation by clicking on the above image.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has been working tirelessly for FOUR decades to end this hunt! Their continued effort has resulted in some landmark victories for seals (i.e.: it is illegal to hunt whitecoat seal pups for commercial gains on the ice floes of the East Coast). Please click on their image, and consider making a donation!
The Green Party of Canada is the ONLY Federal Party that is against the commercial seal hunt. Review their platform, and please vote on May 2nd!