Letter: Community benefits from hunting in far North

This the difference between survival and entertainment to obtain a prized possession.

To the editor:

“Dead Polar Bear Picture Fires Up Arctic Storm”

It was so disappointing to read this headline regarding the posting on Twitter of a dead polar bear by MP Leona Aglukkaq.

I do love animals and would never wish to hurt one. I am not a vegetarian and so do eat meat, also eggs and milk. I wear shoes that are sometimes made of leather.

Some 90 per cent of Canadians live within 100 miles of the border with the States. Luckily, I live in a fairly densely populated area and have a plethora of outlets at which I can buy my food. Because of this, I can make more choices about the food I wish my family to eat. If we wish to eat kosher, hallal, vegetarian or vegan (to mention but a few), the option is easily available.

Moving further north, that picture changes drastically. In Arctic Bay, a head of cabbage $28.54; in Igloolik six cans of concentrated orange juice $51.89; in Clyde River 24 bottles of water $104.99. Now look at the cost of those items here and readjust the cost of your shopping cart.

This polar bear hunt resulted in a community feast in Arctic Bay, not the squirrelling away of food for one family. The only reason people don’t starve is because the Inuit communities traditionally share with those in need and hunt to make up the shortfall. But even hunting is becoming almost prohibitively expensive.

Hunting for trophies is often so wasteful and even food hunters locally will leave behind some of their catch for scavengers to clean up. They only take the best.

In the far North, seals, polar bears, caribou and whales are a necessity of life. Nothing in the North is wasted because it is too valuable.

The only part of a polar bear that is not used is the liver, because the high concentration of vitamin A is poisonous. Fur—clothing and footwear; meat—food; fat—heating and lighting; sinews—thread and gallbladder; and heart—medicinal purposes.

Look at the amount of food that we throw out locally. So many people do not deal with disposed food products properly. They create bear-attractive “traps” that result in bears becoming habituated to human garbage. Such bears are killed because they are a danger to humans and pets. They are shot and disposed of.

Beyond the “poor animal” comments, what is done to protect the bears? Are the callous disposers of food punished? Are they vilified by the press? Are they the subject of social media taunts? No. And why not? We just bleat without thinking.

Where we live makes a huge difference on what and how we eat. Cheap transportation means that we can even eat pineapple in December. We can buy mangoes, passion fruit and even dragon fruit. All of these luxuries are available to us readily and at such reasonable prices.

Perhaps it is time for us to take a real look at life outside our cosy cocoon. The news media is powerful and can put a spin on whatever subject they choose. We buy into this.

This MP knows how difficult life in the Arctic can be as she was born in Inuvik and raised in northern communities.

Before we judge, we need to think. Leona Aglukkaq’s comment “Enjoy” can be more properly translated as “Enjoy the brief respite from hunger” rather than “Enjoy having hunted and wantonly killed a trophy animal.” This the difference between survival and entertainment to obtain a prized possession.

Heather Yeats,

West Kelowna


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