A Lose\ Lose Situation

By Robert Duthie
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Image source: Flickr.

The eastern coast of Canada is a symbol of the beauty, vastness and cultural integrity of our country. Canadians who live near fisheries in Eastern Canada pride themselves in the preservation of their lakes and rivers. The earth and oceans have been shaped by hard working Canadian hands that value and respect the estuaries which support the economic backbone of settlements along the Canadian coast. However with a decrease in animal population control, particularly pertaining to the seal hunt, the fishing industry has taken a huge loss in fish stocks due to the overpopulation of seals. The seal hunt itself has become a Canadian symbol that challenges the connotations of the preservation of Canadian wildlife, as well as the values of the people who live along the eastern seaboard.

Although this issue is most vividly seen along the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, places farther west such as the Gaspe Coast are starting to feel the pinch. For example, small towns such as Cascapedia St - Jules are one of many pockets in Eastern Canada where fishing is a life line that brings vitality to the community after the frozen winter months. During the Spring the town itself becomes alive, flowing in total synchronic harmony with the river. As the ice in the lakes and rivers thaw fishermen prepare their boats and canoes in anxiety for the approaching fishing season. These Gaspesians respect the dichotomy of give and take while working fluidly along side the river. By truly living off the land, the river becomes the supporting vein of vitality that allows Cascapedia St - Jules to function. Without the river and its salmon pools, the town would become a desolate and barren mark left on the hide of the Gaspe coast. However, with an increase in the Harp Seal population, seal packs have shifted their habitat further west in order to find sufficient feeding grounds. The result is a depletion of Salmon in rivers such as the Cascapedia. This is a grim reality for a town that survives solely on Atlantic Salmon. But the real challenge is in dealing with population control and the issues which  surround the connotations of the notorious seal hunt.

The Canadian seal hunt has become a popular protest site for animal rights activists and on the other end of this protest there is a strong awareness of human rights and well being in reference to employment, income and sustainability. With this unstable dichotomy, the seal hunt has become a tension high issue that represents Canada in the eyes of the world.  The seal hunt has become a wildfire the spreads across the Canadian North.  It is shaped as a chaotic cluster of emotion, beliefs and stances that spill out in the hearts of protestors and fishermen alike. This fire that has been fueled by economic, environmental and political, gestures has grown so out of control that the chaos has become symbolic of the "great" Canadian north. Yet this symbol reveals itself to the world as a blood sport thirsting for merciless barbaric bludgeoning. The seal hunt depicts itself in the crimson stained snow like the red that soaks into the white backdrop of our national flag.

The clashing dichotomy of give and take has spiraled into an almost superficial falsehood, where celebrities such as the McCartney's and Pamela Anderson exercise a demonstration which provokes a means to take away from Canadian livelihood. The seal hunt has become a symbol that veils rural, natural and traditional Canadian culture.  When I stand on the shores of the Cascapedia and watch seals parade up and down the current with salmon in their mouths it is easy to realize just how much the seal hunt and animal population control is really destroying.                  


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