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Arts
Economy

$2.6 million in federal funding to help the NWT’s seal industry


The NWT government says federal funding of $2.6 million will help the territory’s seal industry to do a better job of marketing itself nationally and beyond.

The funding was announced earlier this month as part of an $8.5-million funding package directed at “essential market research, consumer research, and domestic and international marketing strategies” for Canada’s fish and seafood industry.

The Fur Institute of Canada and Seals and Sealing Network will together receive $2,646,000, which the NWT said helps the territory to “promote seal as a food source and seal pelts as a distinctive resource for artists, and to establish a unique Seal Certification Program that allows ringed seal pelts harvested in the NWT to be exempted from the EU seal ban.”

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The European Union has banned the import and sale of seal products since 2009 for reasons of animal welfare, a continuation of a ban first established in 1983. There are exemptions for fur products of certified Inuit origin.

Johanna Tiemessen, speaking on behalf of the NWT’s Department of Industry, Tourism, and Investment, said federal money helped to support platforms like Proudly Indigenous Crafts and Designs, a website selling northern seal products worldwide.

“Proudly Indigenous Crafts and Designs were doing a national marketing campaign to raise awareness of the importance and respect of our Indigenous culture. There’s no way from a territorial funding standpoint that we could have run a national marketing campaign,” said Tiemessen, “but that’s where the Seals and Sealing Network, through that funding, is able to do that.”

Tiemessen said the money also allows the Seals and Sealing Network to support artists with raw materials that are authentic and traceable, which raises the value of their work and ensures it meets the criteria for an EU exemption.

“The work that we’re doing with the Seals and Sealing Network through this funding helps to further our programs in the territory for our residents,” said Tiemessen.

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“Without that funding, I’m not sure what the future of all those programs would be.”

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