hi-seal-hunt

Inuit hunters have been heavily affected by the European Union's sealing ban, which began in 2009 and was upheld in 2014 after Canada filed an appeal with the WTO.

A pro-sealing group from Greenland is in Iqaluit this week as part of an effort to unite and strengthen the Inuit voice internationally.

The group, Inuit Sila, began in Denmark, with the goal of advocating for hunters against an EU ban on sealing products.

The ban, introduced in 2009, was upheld last summer after Canada filed an appeal with the World Trade Organization.

Iqaluit's Aaju Peter, who has also fought for sealing rights, says that the EU ban has had severe effects in Greenland.

At one time, she says, hunters in Greenland were harvesting 150,000 seals a year. 

Aaju Peter/Leif Fontaine

Iqaluit's Aaju Peter, left, sits with Leif Fontaine. Leif Fontaine, a seal hunter from Greenland, represents Inuit Sila, a group advocating internationally for the importance of sealing to the Inuit. (CBC)

"Since the legislation, our sale of seal skin has dropped," she said. "Now, Great Greenland, which is a big tannery and seal skin producer, buys annually between 50,000 and 60,000 seal skins from the hunters."

Leif Fontaine, a member of the Greenland delegation, says the meetings in Nunavut have been positive.

"So far, we've had very, very good response," he said. "We've met with the Department of Economic Development and the Department of Fisheries and Sealing, and it's been wonderful."

Inuit Sila representatives also met with Nunavut Tunngavik and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association earlier this week. They are looking to partner with Canada's Inuit population to educate Europeans on the importance of sealing. No decision has been made yet on when or if a formal partnership will be created.