TORONTO — There are many dishes on the menu at Kukum Kitchen that reflect chef Joseph Shawana’s upbringing on the Wiikwemkoong Unceded Reserve on Manitoulin Island, but one in particular has attracted a great deal of controversy: seal tartare.
An online petition launched last week called for the Toronto restaurant to remove seal meat from its menu, stating that “seal slaughters are very violent, horrific, traumatizing and unnecessary.”
The petition has attracted over 4,500 digital signatures from around the world and prompted a slew of one-star reviews for the restaurant on Facebook and Yelp.
Toronto-based Anishinaabe artist Aylan Couchie launched a counter-petition in response, which has been shared by musician Tanya Tagaq and has nearly matched the support of the original campaign.
Lenore Newman, the Canada Research Chair for Food Security and Environment and author of “Speaking in Tongues: A Canadian Culinary Journey,” considers some of the practices in raising chicken and pork for consumption to be far more cruel — and far more common — than the seal hunt.
“Even if (the original petition) is well-intentioned, there are literally thousands of restaurants in Toronto that serve meat that is produced in much worse ways,” says Newman, adding that seal meat is an easy target for criticism because its roots are Inuit.
Controlling people’s food is about controlling them.Lenore Newman
“I do think there is some underlying racism in our culture around other people’s food. In Canada we have this huge history of oppressing Indigenous cuisine, and telling Indigenous people how they should be eating.
“Controlling people’s food is about controlling them.”
The practice of hunting seal, whether for meat or fur, has been controversial for years. High-profile animal rights advocates including Pamela Anderson, Paul McCartney and Morrissey have criticized Canada’s seal hunt and imports of seal products are banned in the United States and the European Union.
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Source:: The Huffington Post – Canada