Inuit Flood Twitter With 'Sealfies' After Ellen DeGeneres Selfie Funds Hunt Haters
A month after Ellen DeGeneres tweeted her record-breaking celebrity-laden selfie during the Oscars on March 2—now surpassing 3.4 million retweets—Samsung's $1.5-million donation to an anti-seal hunting organization has sparked a new viral meme.
What started with a teenager’s video explaining Inuit lifeways to the star has morphed into a twitter hashtag answering “selfie” with “sealfie,” as social media–savvy Inuit—who have for millennia depended on seals for meat, clothing and trade—fire back with their own hashtag featuring photos of them garbed in seal fur coats, mittens, boots and shawls. DeGeneres, fans and Twitter followers were elated when Samsung pledged to donate $1 for every retweet of DeGeneres's Oscars selfie to a charity of her choice. The trouble started when the star, who hosted the Academy Awards, designated $1.5 million for the Humane Society of the United States, an organization that campaigns strongly against the seal hunt in Canada.
The online trend was sparked after Iqaluit teenager Killaq Enuaraq-Strauss, 17, uploaded a March 23 video to YouTube imploring DeGeneres to reconsider her choice of the Humane Society of the U.S. as a designated charity for Samsung's post-Oscar donation.
“We do not hunt seals, or any animal for that matter, for fashion,” Enuaraq-Strauss said in the video. “We hunt to survive. If Canada were to ban the seal hunt, so many families would suffer, would face harsher forms of malnutrition, and wouldn't be able to afford proper clothing for the Arctic environment we live in. Even more so, another part of our culture would have been killed.”
The Iqaluit youth took particular umbrage not only with the AHS's campaigns for Canada to ban the controversial seal hunt—long a target of animal rights protesters—but their successful push for the European Union to ban seal imports (although the EU made some exemptions for traditional Inuit products).
The hashtag was started by journalist Leila Beaudoin, who encouraged others to jump into the furry fray: “Show your fur, people!”
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