Inuit Accuse Green Activists Of Racism Over ‘Factually Untrue’ Polar Bear Claims

  • Date: 16/12/17
  • CBC Radio

A conservation group that released footage of an emaciated polar bear has come under fire for suggesting Inuit hunters are downplaying the effects of climate change in order to protect their bottom line.

Iqaluit Mayor Madeleine Redfern is coming to the defence of Inuit polar bear hunters after a marine conservation group accused them of downplaying the effects of climate change so they could turn a profit. (Kieran Oudshoorn/CBC)

“Inuit people make a lot of money from polar bear trophy hunting,” SeaLegacy co-founder Cristina Mittermeier told As It Happens in an email on Tuesday.

“Of course it is in their best interest to say that polar bears are happy and healthy and that climate change is a joke, because otherwise their quota might be reduced.”

The statement  — which Iqaluit Mayor Madeleine Redfern called “very racist and factually untrue” — was in response to local backlash against a video the group released last week of a severely emaciated polar bear near Baffin Island in Nunavut.

While SeaLegacy called the bear “the face of climate change,” several Nunavut residents, including Inuit polar bear monitor Leo Ikakhik, said the creature was most likely sick, injured or elderly.

Both As It Happens and CBC North shared part of Mittermeier’s statement on social media, prompting several people to come to the defence of Inuit hunters.

Among them was Redfern, who has studied the impact of polar bear hunting in Nunavut.

“Inuit do hunt polar bears. The vast majority is for food,” Redfern told As It Happens host Carol Off. “It’s part of our food. It’s part of our culture. And it’s very nutritious.”


A few of the responses on CBC North’s Facebook post about SeaLegacy’s controversial comments. (CBC North/Facebook)

She said one polar bear can provide up to 200 kilograms of meat — which goes a long way in the territory where one in four people faces in food insecurity.

She said sport or trophy hunts account for about 10 per cent of polar bear hunting in the region, and that it “provides valuable income for the families” and that the meat is usually given back to the community.

“We know climate change is happening. We are not climate deniers. In fact, we are feeling it more than anyone else,” she said.

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