Page last updated at 15:03 GMT, Wednesday, 27 May 2009 16:03 UK

Your views: Protecting cultural traditions

Michaelle Jean
Ms Jean said the raw seal heart was delicious

Canada's governor general, Michaelle Jean, helped to butcher and eat a seal while touring the northern Canadian communities. She was at a festival at Rankin Inlet which was attended by hundreds of Inuit when she ate the seal heart.

It came weeks after the EU voted to ban Canadian seal products, but Ms Jean did not say if her actions were in response to the EU proposals.

The governor general is the representative of Canada's head of state, Queen Elizabeth II.

You've been telling the BBC your thoughts on her actions.


First: they use rifles now to hunt seals.

Second: they hunt for adult seals not pups.

Third: seal meat has been a staple of the Inuit diet for millennia.

Now why be hypocritical? I have been to Britain, and Europe. You still eat meat from cattle, pigs, sheep, and their infants. The French still love their frois gras. What makes seal any less different of a commodity? Because its not a staple of European diet, come on and grow up.
Dennis Krawec, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

The Northern people of Canada eat seal as a staple of their diet. They use all parts of it for their survival, not just the fur like the sealers further south . What are people living in a land of snow and ice supposed to eat if not seal meat? The EU can boycott seal if they please, but they are still a vital part of aboriginal culture and should remain so.
Janet Gratton, Calgary, Canada

I have my own opinions and until she did this I had never even heard of her so her actions have no affect on me. However, I would ask - why do the Inuit need to protect their culture and traditions? Why does anyone? The world is constantly changing and people need to change and evolve.
Eiluned Foster-Watts, Ft. Lauderdale, USA

Should she have eaten chicken or beef instead? Because the seal is cute and furry, she is criticised. This has been a traditional food for the Inuit for thousands of years. Kudos to the Governor General. I believe the French eat rabbits and frog legs and the Belgians eat horses!
David Gittins, Nova Scotia, Canada

Regardless of whether you agree with the actions of Governor General Jean, or feel it was the right or wrong way to make her point, the fact is she is Her Majesty the Queen's Commonwealth representative in Canada. She should not take part in any potentially damaging public activities without due consideration to how said actions will reflect upon the Crown. Any poorly considered actions or words by a Governor General in the Commonwealth, is a negative advertisement for Her Majesty as Head of State, and this should always be at the forefront of a Governor General's mind when considering any actions they wish to take in the public arena.
Dylan Myer, Dublin, Ireland

Well, having eaten seal in Greenland, I can't say I'd personally want to eat it again. However the seal hunting is vital for the Inuit and other Arctic peoples. It is also - unlike a lot of commercial fishing - a sustainable use of animal resources. For the EU to ban seal imports, and thereby threaten the Inuit hunters, smacks of cultural colonialism. The majority of us in Europe - vegetarians aside - are happy eating other animals - and do we really think that slaughtering in abattoirs is great for the animals concerned? Unless the EU is a declaring itself vegetarian, I don't see it has a leg to stand on. So good on Canada's Governor-General.
Tim Bowler, London

You Europeans don't get it. First Nations peoples don't simply hunt and trap to eat, it is also the only way for them to earn a living in the North. They support their families on the money they earn selling pelts, and this is a way of life that has existed for centuries. It is vital to the survival of their communities, and by ruining the markets for their products, the EU is effectively committing an act of cultural genocide. Native communities cannot survive when you destroy their way of making a living; with the inevitable unemployment will come the social problems, despair, and misery that is destroying our aboriginal communities fast enough as it is. Shame on Europeans for once again ruining the lives of native peoples by trying to impose their foreign and quite bizarre values on unwilling people. This is the point that Governor General Jean was trying to make. Too bad it flew right over your heads.
Jeremy Petrisor, Regina, Canada

The actions of the Governor General are strongly approved. The "right way" is an effective way to draw attention to an Inuit tradition and the plight of hunters. Hopefully Michaelle Jean's actions will help protect the culture and traditions of the Inuit.
C. Hanson Dowell, Middleton, Nova Scotia, Canada

Michaelle Jean was visiting Inuit communities in the north and as you mentioned took part in a local festival. The sharing of freshly killed meat is an Inuit way of honouring and welcoming a visitor. What Michaelle Jean did was not about your European ban on seals but rather about joining with a group of people who still hold important the ideals of living off the land.
Mike Merritt, Owen Sound, Canada

There is nothing remotely "bizarre" about Madame Jean's actions. This is a normal part of life for Inuit people, no different than eating steak in Texas, lamb in Wales, and all manner of meat around the world.
V. Anderson, Canada

I find the news coverage sensational at best; downright stupid at worst. The EU stands behind the Inuit right to eat seal. Jean was visiting and they offered her some traditional food. While my sensibilities gag at eating raw seal heart (or any animal's heart!), there was nothing untoward in her actions. Ever had Haggis? There's lung in that as well as heart. "Take from it what you will" means what it means. Why should she have to apologise for eating what she was offered? It had nothing to do with the East coast seal hunts a thousand miles away! Give it a rest!
Michael Gibb, Ottawa, Canada

I'm embarrassed to be Canadian.
TM, Victoria, Canada

I don't approve of it at all. I think there are much better, more palatable ways of showing solidarity. Even a simple genuine speech. And that wouldn't be considered by the EU, and even elicit a response from them.
Atul Ratra, North Bay Canada

The most offensive part of this story is the EU spokesman's comment that it is "too bizarre to acknowledge". The Inuit have a remarkable and admirable diet. It is completely sustainable, organic and extremely healthy. They have been eating the "100 mile diet" since long before it became trendy. Michaelle Jean was doing what any visitor should do when welcomed into a community. She respected local custom and honoured her hosts. While she may have been aware of the political ramifications of her meal she would have done the same thing regardless of it. It's for the same reason that I've found myself having to eat outside of my own comfort zone many times in the Arctic, in Asia and, yes, in Europe. EU member states are home to some pretty "bizarre" local cuisines too.
M. Lee, Repulse Bay, Nunavut, Canada

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