Ellen DeGeneres is catching heat from way up north.
Remember the Oscar selfie tweeted round the world? Samsung pledged to donate $US1 from every retweet (for a total of $US3 million) to whatever charity DeGeneres chose. Half went to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. The Humane Society must have seemed like an good bet for the other half — safe and nonpolitical, something everyone who took part in making the image go viral could get behind. (Of course, Ellen has had her own issues with animal welfare groups. Anybody remember Iggygate?)
Well, not quite.
The Humane Society has campaigned aggressively against seal-hunting, making the group as popular in northern Canada as a Mister Softee truck in February. And back in 2011, Ellen also took on seal-hunting in a post on her show’s blog supporting PETA.
Now a backlash is brewing among the Inuit of the Nunavut region, who have been flooding Twitter with selfies (hashtag #sealfies) posing with seal fur and affirming the importance of seal-hunting for food, clothing and traditional reasons.
The campaign began when Killaq Enuaraq-Strauss, a 17-year-old “Ellen” fan from Iqualuit, took DeGeneres to task on YouTube. “You’re an inspiration as a woman but also as a human being,” the teenager begins, addressing the talk show host directly, before going on to “educate you a bit on seal hunting in the Canadian arctic. We do not hunt seals…for fashion. We hunt to survive.”
Enuaraq-Strauss continues, “I own sealskin boots and they are supercute, and I am proud to say that I own them, and I also eat seal meat more times than I can count. But I can’t apologise for that.”
Due to Ellen’s actions, she says, “A huge part of your fanbase is targeting us as a people for practicing our own rights and traditions as an indigenous group… It’s detrimental to our culture. It’s oppressive.” She adds, “Having a role model to people worldwide use a photo of a few celebrities to protest against our culture, to raise money to fight against us — I’m a lit bit insulted and hurt and disappointed. But I’m not mad.”
After the video hit local media, a number of her fellow Inuit rallied to her cause, posting #sealfies of their own, including the government of Nunavut’s Twitter account.
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