Polaris Winner Tanya Tagaq Responds To PETA Takedown

Tanya Tagaq received some attention for her encouragement of eating and wearing seal along with saying “Fuck PETA” during her acceptance speech for the Polaris Music Prize. First, though, if you haven’t seen that performance, please go watch it. Tagaq (who formerly was best known for her performance on Björk’s Medulla) took something as ancient and traditional as Inuit throat singing and made it modern, sexy, and, well, metal. It might seem strange to some that she beat out stars like Arcade Fire, Mac DeMarco, and Drake, but it’ll make a lot more sense after you’ve watched her headbanging and screaming in front of a screen scrolling down the names of indigenous women in Canada who have gone missing or been murdered. It demands your attention. So with that said let’s wade through this beef … er … seal meat?

PETA responded with a statement that their lobbying exempts indigenous hunts and that she should “stop posing her baby with a dead seal and read more.”

PETA was surprised by Tanya’s ill-informed rant because we’ve never campaigned against the indigenous hunt. Our fight is — and always has been — against the East Coast commercial slaughter, which is run by white people who bilk Canadians for millions in tax dollars in order to prop up the non-existent seal trade. The international bans that PETA has successfully lobbied for, such as in Europe, exempt indigenous hunts. Tanya should stop posing her baby with a dead seal and read more.

In Tagaq’s defense, however, it’s probably fair to say that when a group of people make their living sustainably hunting an animal, campaigns that shame people for wearing or eating the animal in general affect all those people, even if the campaign was meant to be directed at the commercial industry “run by white people.” Tagaq’s “sealfie” photo was an attempt to fight that stigma. Tagaq discussed her feelings in several interviews including one with the CBC show As It Happens, which you can read below.

I think that it’s ridiculous and bullying. To be against sealing is basically taking food out of Inuit kids’ mouths. We were doing well financially and breaking free from the federal government before people started all these ridiculous bans. And just the hypocrisy of there being giant slaughterhouses everywhere and the state of the climate. But you’re gonna go out to your wit’s end over some seals??

A lot of people don’t understand the quality of life and the respect and the meat that we are as humans. We are not separate from animals. The way we treat animals as Inuit people, we wouldn’t overhunt them. That’s not how we do things. It’s called living in harmony with the earth.?

(via CBC)

Tagaq also responded on Twitter, pointing out the dual hypocrisy here that people are shaming sustainable seal hunting while ignoring the environmental issues involving the beef industry and also ignoring the scrolling list of more than a thousand names of murdered and missing indigenous women. Read them both below.

Feel free to share your own thoughts on the matter in the comments. In other news, I had a dream last night that Tagaq collaborated with Ben Frost and Colin Stetson. It was awesome.