Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Environment Minister Aglukkaq Lauds Polar Bear Hunt While at Conservation Summit

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Environment Minister Aglukkaq Lauds Polar Bear Hunt While at Conservation Summit

Article excerpt

Environment minister lauds polar bear hunt

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OTTAWA - Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq is raising a ruckus in social media circles after posting a photo of a freshly killed polar bear on Twitter with the caption: "Enjoy!!"

And she did so while in Moscow where she is celebrating the 40th anniversary of an agreement on the conservation of polar bears.

Aglukkaq, an Inuk who was raised on the land, was relaying a message from someone in Arctic Bay, on Baffin Island, who boasted this week that his cousin had "caught his first polar bear" and included a photo of the dead, glassy-eyed carnivore.

Messages of protest and support quickly followed Aglukkaq's post.

"Really?? That is disgusting!" commented one follower.

"I understand the importance but HUGE BOOOO to you for posting the pic," said another.

The rejoinders were just as spirited.

"Look at all these paternalistic white liberals bashing an Inuk who hunted polar bear for food. #racist #shame," said one Aglukkaq supporter.

https://twitter.com/leonaaglukkaq/status/408673048003235840

The controversy was magnified by the fact Aglukkaq, who is the current chairwoman of the intergovernmental Arctic Council, is in Russia for a summit of polar bear "range states" to mark the signing of a 1973 conservation convention.

Her office issued a press release Friday saying the meeting participants have "committed to ensuring aboriginal traditional knowledge is integrated into our polar bear management decisions."

It's not the first time the Conservative minister has tweaked the sensibilities of environmentalists and animal rights activists.

Aglukkaq, who has a polar bear skin displayed in her ministerial office, according to insiders, has also worn a seal skin coat in the House of Commons and publicly congratulated northern communities on successful whale hunts.

She has also questioned scientific studies suggesting polar bear numbers are threatened, citing anecdotal evidence from her brother in Nunavut.

Aglukkaq responded to her critics over the polar bear photo with a couple of follow-up Twitter postings. …

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