My father was a sealer. He would prepare the seal skins over a several week process, soak them in chopped pieces of bark and ensure they were tanned to perfection. It is more than 13 years later and I still proudly wear the seal skin boots made due to his hard work and dedication to the tradition.
In the photo above, I try on a seal skin vest. Although, it was not my size. As my mother would say, “you’ll have to eat a few more figgy puddings”. I did try on the seal skin belt, which fit perfectly. I could not resist but to purchase it. A number of people have since complimented me on it. This organization is evidence that there is a market for seal skin products and there always will be no matter how many countries that close their border to the import of this product.
Santa gave me a pair of seal skin slippers for Christmas. I have since purchased a second pair for the Office at the Confederation Building. This local social enterprise is ensuring that seal skin products remain a hallmark of our culture and tradition. I am looking forward to picking up my order next week as they have opted to make a custom skinny tie for me.
In 2011, I wrote a letter in retaliation of Ellen DeGeneres‘ stance on the seal hunt. I stand by that position. It is time for us to take control of our own destiny and depend less on the global market place to purchase our product but to focus on a co-op or social enterprise model that creates local jobs, teaches long-lived skills, pass on traditions and educate people of the economic and social benefits sealing has had to the people of the Great Northern Peninsula and other parts of Canada.
If you would like to find out more about GNP Craft Producers, visit www.gnpcrafts.ca.
Live Rural NL –Christopher C. Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North
- Sealskin Slippers for Christmas? (liveruralnl.com)
GNP Craft Producers of Shoal Cove East, NL has a unique offering. They are situated just minutes north of the Town of Flower’s Cove in a beautifully maintained yellow building, surrounded by an array of outer buildings, one of which includes a replica fishing room with wharf.
This venture produces 100% locally made traditional crafts, specializing in sealskin product. They sell a line of hats, boots, mittens, vests, coats, slippers and more to local and tourist market. Some former politicians have sported sealskin jackets at public events in the province.
This organization has a workshop, where they have trained artisans to keep the tradition of sealskin boot making alive. They purchase sealskin from local sealers, they have their own tannery and avail of local labour. Once the seal skin is ready they can employ skilled locals to produce quality pieces for retail. They have a selection of other local craft goods for sale in addition to seal skin product.
If you have the opportunity to visit their site, they have a series of panels that depict the process involved with seal skin boot making and a brief history of the sealing industry.
One can visit their store front, or inquire about products by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 709-456-2122.
GNP Craft Producers is an authentic heritage shop, where the products are not imported from other countries. It is a storefront where you can buy local. Show your support, pass on a rural tradition.
Live Rural NL –
Christopher C. Mitchelmore
Dear Ellen Degeneres –
I am deeply disappointed that you have chosen to become the latest celebrity to advocate against the Canadian Seal Hunt, joining forces with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). You have joined a growing list of mis-informed celebrity predecessors, including Beatle Paul McCartney and Playmate, Pamela Anderson. We only need to remember then Premier Danny Williams taking on Paul McCartney and Heather Mills-McCartney on Larry King Live. Danny Williams not only illustrated how un-educated Paul and now former wife was on the matter of the seal hunt, he also embarrassed them in terms of knowing their Canadian geography. Mr. Williams invited them to come to Newfoundland & Labrador to see for himself. Paul remarked along the lines that he was already there when really he was in Prince Edward Island, another province.
PETA is an organizations that uses images of baby seals and presents mis-information to create a cash infusion. Their website states: “PETA is drawing global attention to the annual slaughter of tens of thousands of baby harp seals”.
This statement is false! Myth: The Canadian government allows sealers to harvest white coat seals.
Reality: The harvesting of harp seal pups (white coats) and hooded seal pups (blueblack) is illegal in Canada and has been since 1987. The seals that are harvested are self-reliant, independent animals. (Source: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/seal-phoque/index-eng.htm)
Ellen your website states: Seal hunting is one of the most atrocious and inhumane acts against animals allowed by any government.
The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Ocean’s manages the seal hunt, which is sustainable. One only has to look at the harp seal population growth. In the 1970’s there were less than 2 million seals, now in 2011 there is more than 9 million harp seals. The government allocates an annual harvest quota that is supported by scientific research. The Seal Hunt is HUMANE, STRICTLY REGULATED and ENFORCED. How is harvesting seals any more atrocious and inhumane than the fish that is caught, cows, chicken, pigs, moose and other animals that are killed for human consumption? What about cattle that are ranched and grown strictly for human consumption? They have no chance for anything but ending up as some form of beef, maybe a burger – unlike seals, who are self-reliant, independent and able to fend for themselves.
The seal hunt has been around in Newfoundland and Labrador for centuries. Without the seal meat, oil and skin for clothing many people of the rural communities would be burdened with economic hardships and other woes. The sealskin boot has provided the warmth and protection from the elements of surviving in a difficult winter climate. The seal skin is water-resistant, protecting the feet from getting damp when cutting firewood to heat one’s home. Seal skin provided necessary protection that may have saved human lives.
My father was a fisherman, his father and his father before him. They have all harvested seals to aid them in providing for their families. My father had prepared seal skin to be made into boots. I still proudly wear them, as winters in Northern Newfoundland tend to be very stormy. I walk knee-deep in snow, many days throughout winter to reach my car. I understand the deep-rooted tradition and the necessity of the seal hunt to ensure life in rural regions could continue. How dare you make such uninformed comments that continue to negatively impact the fishers in rural regions.
I ask that you do further research on this matter and re-consider your stance on the seal hunt. I invite you to come to Rural Newfoundland and Labrador to experience for yourself first-hand the seal hunt. You should use your celebrity status to do good instead of blatant abuse.
Live Rural NL –