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Seals on the Ice

Last Sunday, I had left my home to drive to grandmother’s house in Nameless Cove for a big turkey dinner on Easter Sunday. Driving through the community, I saw a black spot on the ice.

Division No. 9, Subd. C-20130331-01594

The seal is at the edge of the beach.

Division No. 9, Subd. C-20130331-01598

Another seal is close to shore, as pack ice had blocked the Strait of Belle Isle. The land in the background, well that’s “The Big Land” – Labrador. I’m not sure people believe me when I saw, “I can see Labrador from my window,” but it is true.  Just a short 15 kilometres between us and still no plan to connect us by a fixed-link. Advancing transportation and telecommunication networks will be key to Southern Labrador and the Great Northern Peninsula‘s future long-term sustainability. Quebec is completing Route 138 (Lower North Shore Highway), this means Montreal will be just 13 hours drive from this province. It will transform the shipping of goods and services. The current administration promised a feasibility study – a link has not yet materialized. Instead it has opted to build a multi-billion dollar energy project, laying cables on the ocean floor that will interfere with our way of life, the fishery – our mainstay, versus going underground with a tunnel. It was noted in a pre-feasibility study that if both projects were paired, savings of nearly $400 million would be realized. More work is needed exploring a fixed-link, but advancing transportation networks is imminent, we can not continue to be plagued with annual increased rates at Marine Atlantic and an unreliable schedule for shipment of goods and services. These costs are ultimately passed on to the consumer.  We need to be more strategic and consider where we need to go over the long-term, but not forget our roots – our beginnings.

Seals played a critical role in the development of our as a permanent settlement. In the early 1800’s they were a major food source, as the island had only 9 types of mammalia. Additionally, as a British Colony, we shipped both whale and seal oil to the homeland. This oil was used in lamps and correlated with the Industrial Revolution. Today, this product is banned in the United Kingdom.

It will be another couple of days before the sealers take to the ice. I wish much success in this years hunt, as the seal provides valuable meat, oils and pelts that are harvested in a humane and sustainable way. Sealing is part of our tradition, and will continue to remain that way well into the future.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
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