Canadian Inuit post ‘sealfies’ in protest over Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscar-night selfie

Inuit reject Oscar host’s anti seal-hunting photo stunt and say practice is humane and sustainable.

Ben Childs; theguardian.comFriday 28 March 2014 12.34 EDT

@Alethea_Aggiuq's 'sealfie'. Photograph: @Alethea_Aggiuq/Twitter

@Alethea_Aggiuq’s ‘sealfie’. Photograph: @Alethea_Aggiuq/Twitter

Canadian Inuit have embarked on a unique form of protest against the decision by host Ellen DeGeneres to highlight an anti seal-hunting charity on Oscars night. DeGeneres’ Hollywood megastar “selfie” became the most retweeted snap of all time earlier this month, in the process raising $1.5m for the Humane Society of the United States, which campaigns against the seal hunt.

Ellen DeGeneres takes a selfie with stars at the Oscars 2014. Photograph: Ellen DeGeneres/AP

Ellen DeGeneres takes a selfie with stars at the Oscars 2014. Photograph: Ellen DeGeneres/AP

Now members of Canada’s indigenous population have hit back with their own version, the “sealfie”.

Inuit have begun to post pictures of themselves dressed in sealskin clothing, reported. The move aims to highlight the cultural and financial benefits of a practice they see as a sustainable, ethical choice.

“The meat feeds families, which is important to an area where many households have identified that they face issues of food insecurity,” said Sandi Vincent, who posted her own “sealfie” on Thursday. “In Inuit culture, it is believed seals and other animals have souls and offer themselves to you. Humanely and with gratitude we accepted this gift,” she said, recalling her first seal hunt at age 15. “My uncle placed some snow in the seal’s mouth when it was dead, so its soul would not be thirsty. If there is one word to describe seal-hunting, I would suggest ‘respectful’.”

DeGeneres’ website says Canadian seal-hunting hunt is “one of the most atrocious and inhumane acts against animals allowed by any government”.

Inuit Alethea Arnaquq-Baril tweeted: “I am an Inuit seal-meat eater, and my fur is ethical.” Campaign supporter Taha Tabish wrote: “Hey, @TheEllenShow, I support the sustainable harvesting of seal.”

The $1.5m (£900,000) donation came about after Korean firm Samsung promised to donate $1 to a charity of the Oscars host’s choice each time her celebrity-loaded selfie was retweeted.