FEATURE INTERVIEW: Canadian Inuit leader denounces WTO ruling on EU seal ban

Inuit hunters point to seal holes near the Arctic Canadian community of Clyde River, Nunavut. (Eilís Quinn / Eye on the Arctic)
Inuit hunters point to seal holes near the Arctic Canadian community of Clyde River, Nunavut. (Eilís Quinn / Eye on the Arctic)
On Monday, the World Trade Organization upheld the European Union ban on seal products, a law that Canadian Inuit have called ‘immoral’ and ‘outrageaus’.

The European Parliament had passed a bill to ban the importation of seal products in 2009 after a campaign by animal welfare activists against the commercial seal hunt.

Though indigenous people in the Arctic are exempt from the ban, the law has effectively killed the market for seal products.

Terry Audla, president of ITK, Canada's national Inuit organization. (ITK)
Terry Audla, president of ITK, Canada’s national Inuit organization. (ITK)

This has had a major economic and social impact for Inuit, Sami and other Arctic indigenous communities.

“The ban runs contrary to principles of fair trade, and it is truly inexplicable that the WTO did not dismiss outright the EU’s Orwellian ‘moral grounds’ justification of this outrageous trade impediment,” said Terry Audla, the president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Canada’s national Inuit organization, in a statement shortly after the decision was announced.

“The seal ban demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of Arctic Peoples on the part of the EU,” said Mr. Audla.

To find out more, Eye on the Arctic’s Eilís Quinn  spoke to Terry Audla, the leader of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Canada’s national Inuit organization on Monday shortly after the ruling.

Related Links:

WTO panel report on EU measures on seal products

Seal product ban in Europe upheld by WTO panel, CBC News

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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