Sports commentator Don Cherry has taken to Twitter to address the controversial opinion he shared about seal meat during Saturday night's Coach's Corner segment on the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast.
"I have hurt some people's feelings that I like and admire," Cherry posted on Sunday evening.
'I do, however, find it very unusual ... that a person would go into a restaurant and order a seal burger for lunch' - Don Cherry
Cherry's comments were made in reference to his colleague Ron MacLean, who is in St. John's for a Rogers Hometown Hockey event.
MacLean told Cherry he had eaten a seal burger, which was prepared by Todd Perrin of Mallard Cottage restaurant in Quidi Vidi.
Cherry joked that MacLean ate a "little baby seal," adding, "What are you, a savage, a barbarian?"
Social media was — and continues to be — filled with outrage about Cherry's comments, with many people wanting him to apologize.
On Twitter, Cherry wrote that no one forced him to address the contentious comments.
He acknowledged that he has eaten venison and duck meat and does not disagree with those who hunt either.
"Just the same as I have no problem with people who hunt seals and seal meat," he added.
Social media firestorm
Cherry went on, "I do however find it very unusual, in my world, that a person would go into a restaurant and order a seal burger for lunch."
Cherry's comments ignited a social media firestorm in the 24 hours following the broadcast.
"According to Don Cherry, my Inuk friends are savages because they eat seal. The [Sportsnet] network should fire him for his racist remark," was one comment posted on the Twitter feed of Matthew Coon Come, who was national chief of the Assembly of First Nations from 2000 to 2003.
Another person wrote, "I'm proud to be Inuk and to be called a barbarian is just unacceptable, Don Cherry you don't have the right to call me or my people that!"
Meanwhile, Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq waded into the dispute and criticized Cherry's view.
"Sealing is important to Inuit culture and tradition. Mr. Cherry's comments last night were hurtful and insensitive. I hope he apologizes," Aglukkaq wrote on Twitter.
She went on to post, "Our government will continue to defend Canada's humane seal hunt which is so important to many of our Northern and coastal communities."
Cherry's full statement can be found on his Twitter page.
1) Evidently I upset some people about my seal burger comments. I would like to try to explain my comments. Not because I was told to— Don Cherry (@CoachsCornerCBC) February 8, 2015
Sealing is important to Inuit culture and tradition. Mr. Cherry's comments last night were hurtful and insensitive. I hope he apologizes.— Leona Aglukkaq (@leonaaglukkaq) February 8, 2015
Our government will continue to defend Canada's humane seal hunt which is so important to many of our Northern and coastal communities.— Leona Aglukkaq (@leonaaglukkaq) February 8, 2015
Eating seal is barbaric. Now, buy Rock em sock em 97 where grown men punch the face off each other for two hours.— Keith Dunne (@KeithDunneNL) February 8, 2015
I wonder what the wings and ribs at Don Cherry's restaurant is made out of? Surely not as "barbaric" as shooting a free-range seal..— travisparsons (@travisparsons) February 8, 2015
Oh god Don Cherry really did just equate eating seal meat to being a "savage" and a "barbarian". National embarrassment. #HNIC— Emma S (@emmaschuetz) February 8, 2015
According to Don Cherry, my Inuk friends are savages because they eat seal. The network should fire him for his racist remark.— Matthew Coon Come (@mcooncome) February 8, 2015
I'm proud to be Inuk and to be called a barbarian is just unacceptable, #doncherry you don't have the right to call me or my people that!— Jennifer (@JenniferMHunter) February 8, 2015