Documentary on the history of the seal hunt

Update below

I just read this morning that a documentary about the history of the seal hunt will be on CBC Newsworld tonight and Saturday, so if you get a chance, watch it or tape it. I haven't seen it yet, but I've heard lots about it, so I'm looking forward to it. For those of you looking for more information, this might be a good start.

It's called My Ancestors were Rogues and Murderers, by Anne Troake, and it will air on The Lens, CBC Newsworld at 10:00 pm ET/PT tonight, Tuesday, April 04, 2006, and same time on Saturday, April 08, 2006.

Watch the trailer.

I mentioned in a blog conversation that it makes me so sad to see the debate about the seal hunt beginning to turn into a personal attack on Newfoundlanders.

For those of you not following, take, for example, the comments of Paul Watson, head of the Sea Shepherd Society:

Watson confirms he wrote an e-mail describing Newfoundlanders as "blight and a curse, saying he has "no respect for Newfoundland or Newfoundlanders.

"They debased Canada when they joined the nation in 1949 and they continue to embarrass us in the eyes of the world as they inflict bloody carnage on innocent creatures (seals)."

April 7th update: Another example of this disturbing trend is an email sent from a Vancouver resident to a Newfoundland bed & breakfast, saying that "we won't weep" if the next tsunami hits Newfoundland.

Although I have my cynical moments, I like to believe in the basic good of people. Maybe it shouldn't surprise me that there is such prejudice in the world, but it still does. Perhaps this film can educate us all..

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  1. Hi skylarkd,
    Did you get a chance to see the film? If so, what were your impressions? I did not see it, but just wondering if it put Newfoundlanders & sealing in a more positive light, as opposed to that put out by the animal rights groups.


  2. Hi kodak,

    I didn't get a chance to see it on Tuesday, as I had to make a last-minute trip to Toronto.

    It's on again on Saturday, so I plan to watch it then.

    From reading the info on the website, and watching the trailer, it certainly seems to shed some light (finally) on the point of view of the sealers.

  3. Okay, I watched it on Saturday.

    I found that it put Newfoundlanders and sealing in a more positive light, but for me, it's also a case of preaching to the choir.

    I don't think the film would do anything to change the minds of vegetarians and vegans who think that killing animals is simply wrong.

    But I think the film did a good job of highlighting the history of the hunt, the culture of Newfoundland, and to show that sealers aren't evil barbarians, as some activist groups and news reports would have the world believe.

    In particular, I found it interesting that from the 1970s and on, sealers have traveled across North America to try to educate the public about the seal hunt. It takes a lot of courage to do that - having people yell obscenities at you and spit in your face.

    I also found it really interesting that Twillingate sealers had worked so closely with activists; inviting them on their boats and into their homes, so that they could see a different perspective. It seems like quite a few activists changed their minds about the professionalism of the hunt after that. They got burned occasionally though, like with the activist that paid a sealer to torture a seal on film (the footage that is used so often to show inhumanity).

    It's also sad that an IFAW employee was fired the day after brokering an agreement between the group, government and sealers about having their scientists collaborate on research.

    If you didn't get a chance to see it on Saturday, there are a few video clips online here:
    (clips 1 & 2 are Newfoundland background, 3 & 4 are about sealing in particular)

    There are a lot of gaps missing between the clips though, so watch the documentary in its entirety if you can. Your local library might have a copy.

  4. I'm glad to hear the film put the sealers in a more positive light. It's too bad that Newfoundlanders find themselves spending time defending not just an industry, but also countering the mindless slander of people like Watson who take the juvenille racially-slurred insult approach to break a people. Some interesting points you made there, I forgot about the sealer being bought to torture a seal. He was foolish to do it but the activist will stoop to anything to contrive marketing footage.