Thursday, November 25, 2010
Yesterday I was told about a beluga whale that had been caught and was on the shore near the school. So I popped down there and was very excited about seeing busy fisherman (or are they hunters?) and a whale being all butchered up. Well you see what I saw. I must admit I was disappointed and a bit confused as to why the whale had had it's skin, blubber and fins removed while the rest was left to the seagulls. I waited in the snow and wind for a bit then headed back to school. I stopped in and talked with the Secretary of the school, Ooloosie (sorry if it is not spelled correctly). She has been very helpful clarifying customs and filling me in what is what up here. It turns out that her husband caught the whale in one of his nets. She explained that people only eat the meat from a whale when it is a fresh kill. If it recovered from a net (which are checked every 24 hours) then it has been dead for a while. Apparently this affects the taste and people don't like it as it tastes differently. However, they do use it to feed dogs and such. So, it does not go to waste which is great. Hey, the dogs have got to eat to right?
I have been thinking a lot about animals, hunting and culture lately. I grew up hunting and fishing in southern B.C. We hunted grouse (birds), rabbits and deer. Many others hunted black bear, elk, moose and ducks. When I grew older and moved to the city I chose to become a vegetarian because I did not want to support how animals who were raised for human consumption were treated over their lifetimes. Anyway, I have digressed. I now eat meat again. Principals, shmincipales. I do love bacon! Anyhow, hunting these animals seemed normal at the time and in hindsight. But coming up here, I had some trepidation about the hunting of animals that are found here. But, I tried to come with an open mind and not be judgmental and I feel I am doing a pretty good job. I realize, upon lots of personal reflection, that hunting a seal or what have you up here is the same as hunting a deer down south. In fact, my students asked me a while back if I was a hunter and I explained that when I was young, I was. When I told them we hunted deer, there response was "ohhh". This is in a "oh, that's kind of sad to kill such a cute animal" sort of ohhh. I was taken aback. These are the same kids who say their favorite country food meals are muktuk (beluga skin and blubber raw) and raw, frozen caribou. It just reinforces that normal is relative to your history and where you are at any given moment.
On a side note, the garden is doing very well. Our plants consist of large tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, basil, green onions and lettuce. Sadly, I was unable to get worms for composting though.