TORONTO — Nunavut throat singer Tanya Tagaq used her Polaris Music Prize acceptance speech Monday to take a shot at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
“People should wear and eat seal as much as possible because if you can imagine an indigenous culture thriving and surviving on a sustainable resource, wearing seal and eating it, it’s delicious and there’s lots of them,” Tagaq said.
“And f*** PETA.”
Problem is, PETA has never opposed the Inuit right to hunt seals.
“PETA was surprised by Tanya’s ill-informed rant because we’ve never campaigned against the indigenous hunt,” said Dan Mathews, senior vice president of PETA, in an email.
“Our fight is and has always been against the east coast commercial slaughter, which is run by white people who bilk Canadians for millions in taxes to prop up the non-existent seal trade.”
Mathews said the international trade bans that PETA lobbied for specifically exempt indigenous hunts.
“Tanya should stop posing her baby with a dead seal and read more,” he said, referring to a photo the singer shared on Twitter in March.
Last December, Canadian actress Pamela Anderson and The Simpsons co-creator Sam Simon — both PETA supporters — called on the Canadian government to end the commercial seal hunt but said Inuit should be allowed to hunt.
In fact, no animal rights groups have protested Inuit seal hunts.
“There has never been a protest against the Inuit for killing seals,” Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society pointed out earlier this year in a Facebook post.
Heather Sullivan of the Protect Seals campaign at the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) told Global News in April the organization is focused solely on the commercial hunt.
“We take no issue with the Inuit hunt,” she said.
The Canadian division of Humane Society International backed up the HSUS position.
Executive director Rebecca Aldworth insisted: “We don’t oppose the Inuit hunt.”
In fact, she said her organization has supported excluding Inuit seal products from the European Union trade ban and campaigned for certification of these goods so consumers know they are supporting a subsistence hunt.
Monday’s comment wasn’t the first time Tagaq has conflated the commercial seal hunt on Canada’s east coast with the northern hunts. In March, she was among those who publicly protested a three-year-old post on the website of talk show host Ellen DeGeneres that called the commercial hunt “one of the most atrocious and inhumane acts against animals allowed by any government.”
DeGeneres has never opposed the Inuit right to hunt seals.
Tagaq’s remark during her Polaris Music Prize speech is getting lots of support on social media regardless.
“Preach!” wrote Chisholm Pothier.
Tyler M posted: “i just keep hearing tanya tagaq saying ‘f*** PETA’ and smiling.”
“Suddenly I love her even more than before,” wrote Joshua Hind.
Randy Perry echoed the sentiment. “I’m not familiar with Tanya Tagaq’s music,” he tweeted, “but it’s impossible for me not to love, at least a little bit, anyone who says ‘F*** PETA.'”
This post has been updated with Dan Mathews’ comments.