Award-winning Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq says Facebook has apologized for suspending her account after she posted a photo of a seal fur.
Tagaq, who is from Nunavut, said Thursday she was notified that her account was being blocked for 24 hours after she shared a friend's photo of a young man wearing the coat, along with the hashtags #eatseal and #wearseal.
Later in the day, the post reappeared on her page. Tagaq tweeted that Facebook contacted her and apologized. "They said one of their members 'accidentally' removed the post and banned me," she wrote.
The post is now visible again on her official Facebook page.
Got blocked and reported on Facebook for posting my dear friend's handmade sealskin coat.— @tagaq
Hold up FB just emailed me and apologized. They said one of their members "accidentally" removed the post and banned me. Thx for supporting— @tagaq
"We're very sorry about this mistake. The enforcement action was made in error and we fixed it as soon as we were able to investigate," a Facebook spokesperson said. "Our team processes millions of reports each week, and we sometimes get things wrong."
Tagaq, a longtime defender of the Inuit seal hunt, said animal-rights activists and others who criticize the hunt are hurting a traditional and sustainable livelihood.
"The Arctic is a vast place. Groceries are terribly expensive. Many live in poverty," Tagaq wrote in a message to The Canadian Press from Nuuk, Greenland, where she was preparing for a concert.
"We have no other resources other than non-renewable energy. We need to export something. We need to live. To pay rent."
Hovak Johnston, the woman who made the coat, said Inuit use every part of the seal and fur would be discarded if not used in coats.
"Inuit are really good with reusing stuff and not wasting and making sure that we try to use everything that is good for the environment — not something that's plastic or synthetic," Johnston said from her home in Yellowknife.
Johnston said she made the coat for her teenage son, who posted the picture on Facebook and had the picture reposted by Tagaq, a family friend.
Tagaq, who combines throat singing with elements of alternative rock and ambient music, won the 2014 Polaris Music Prize for her album Animism. She has sparred many times online with opponents of the seal hunt.
When she accepted the Polaris prize, she again challenged opponents.
"People should wear and eat seal as much as possible because, if you can, imagine an Indigenous culture thriving and surviving on sustainable resources, wearing seal and eating it. It's delicious and there's lots of them," she said in her acceptance speech.
"I really believe that if hipsters can make flower beards 'in,' then you can do it with seal."