After Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscars selfie raised $1.5 million for an anti-seal hunt organization, Canada’s Inuit have started a new viral phenomenon — sealfies.
Seal hunt proponents tweeted pictures of themselves decked out in sealskin clothes at DeGeneres Thursday.
"I am an Inuit seal meat eater, and my fur is ethical," wrote Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, bundled in a sealskin coat, pants and boots. She also wrote a letter to DeGeneres and posted it online.
Samsung vowed to donate $1 for every retweet of DeGeneres’ celebrity-packed Oscars selfie to a charity of her choice. She raised $1.5 million for the Humane Society of the United States, which campaigns annually against Canada’s seal hunt.
The Ellen DeGeneres Show’s website calls the seal hunt “one of the most atrocious and inhumane acts against animals allowed by any government.”
The Inuit have long defended the hunt as a sustainable practice, deeply rooted in Inuit culture, which helps feed people in a region plagued by hunger.
"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, 26, of Rankin Inlet who posted her own sealfie Thursday.
The pelts also come in handy in the cold northern climate and provide a needed source of income, she said.
She also countered the idea of the hunt as “inhumane.”
"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, reminiscing about catching her first seal at age 15.
"My uncle placed some snow in the seals 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."