Have you Heard?
Sealing in the Spotlight
A crowd gathered in St. John's to support sealers, and to counterbalance protest rallies against the seal hunt being held in March at various places around the world. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has stated that new regulations governing the hunt, which include bleeding seals prior to skinning them, will not make the practice more humane. Animal rights activist Paul Watson and members of the Sea Sheppard Conservation Society have warned that they will be keeping a close eye on the hunt, though federal officials have threatened prosecution because the Sea Sheppard's vessel, the Farley Mowat, doesn't meet international shipping standards. Meanwhile, a Canadian delegation was in Europe last month, lobbying the European Union to turn down a ban on seal products from Canada. This year's hunt has a quota of 275,000 seals out of a population of nearly six million animals.
Polar Bears on the Prowl
Each spring, polar bears visit Newfoundland and Labrador - and this year has been no different. The bear pictured above was photographed on March 28 in the woods near Milan Arm, about 150 m from Route 430. At press time, RCMP believed several bears were roaming the Northern Peninsula wilderness near St. Anthony, and on Fogo Island. RCMP are advising the public that "a healthy respect towards these animals remains the best approach," encouraging residents to keep pets and garbage inside their homes. They say not to approach a polar bear and to contact the RCMP or the Department of Natural Resources about any sightings as soon as possible.
Mi'kmaq Vote for Deal
The Mi'kmaq of Newfoundland voted overwhelmingly in favour of an agreement-in-principle that, if ratified, will give them formal aboriginal status under Canada's Indian Act. Under the terms of the agreement, the Mi'kmaq will have access to federal funding for education, health and economic development, as well as other government programs aimed at enhancing the lives of non-reserve status Indians. The agreement does not include land for a reserve, nor will it award hunting and fishing rights. The ratification of the agreement-in-principle will mark the creation of the Qalipu (Mi'kmaq word meaning "caribou") Mi'kmaq First Nations Band, which could be established by 2010.
A Winterset for Winter
Local author Kathleen Winter has won the 2007 Winterset Award, along with $5,000, for her collection of short stories called Boys. Winter's book was short-listed along with The Silent Time by Paul Rowe, and Cod: The Ecological History of the North Atlantic Fisheries by George A. Rose. (Rowe and Rose each received $1,000.) The Winterset Award, administered by the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council, celebrates excellence in local writing. It was established in 2000 to honour the memory of St. John's native Sandra Fraser Gwyn, a social historian, prize-winning author and passionate supporter of the province's arts scene. Kathleen is the second in her family to receive the prestigious award; her brother, author Michael Winter, won it in 2000 for his novel, This all Happened.
Funds for Beaumont Hamel Visit
The provincial government has earmarked $45,000 to fund an 11-person delegation to Beaumont Hamel, France, to pay tribute to those who lost their lives on July 1, 1916, during the Battle of the Somme. Among the 11 individuals who will make the trip this summer will be veteran representatives from across the province and students chosen from an essay, poem and poster competition.