“This is the way we have always existed, using seals. I don’t think our ancestors would have survived if there had been no seal”.
- Johnny Meeko Sr., Sanikiluaq, Nunavut
Ringed seals have sustained countless generations of Inuit families with their highly nutritious meat. The beautiful pelt is made into garments and footwear that keep the bitter Arctic cold away from the body. The oil, once used for fuel and lighting igloos, is still used to light qulliq lamps to begin meetings and ceremonies.
The seal remains an important resource in the Arctic today as the traditional subsistence economy adjusts to the challenges of the future. Seals and other forms of wildlife continue to hold great economic and cultural promise as northern communities continue to adapt to contemporary living.
Inuit harvesting techniques have evolved with this change in lifestyle however the tradition of sharing remains. The seal hunt preserves the detailed knowledge of and respect for marine ecosystems that comes from living in harmony with the land and water. Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, the Inuit way of knowing, includes knowledge of wildlife and nature.
Sealing in Nunavut is not simply about the hunt; it’s about gaining first-hand knowledge of wildlife and the environment, sharing food among the community, preparing skins for clothing, preserving traditional skills, transferring knowledge from elders to youth, and celebrating Inuit cultural values.