Pe­ti­tion calls for seal to be taken off menu

Res­tau­rant’s dishes re­flect In­dige­nous her­itage: Chef

Metro Canada (Toronto) - - Toronto -

Ac­tivists are de­mand­ing that an In­dige­nous res­tau­rant in Toronto re­move seal from its menu.

An on­line pe­ti­tion, which had about 3,250 sig­na­tures by late af­ter­noon Wed­nes­day and was pub­lished through Care 2, de­cries Mid­town res­tau­rant, Kukum Kitchen’s dishes that con­tain seal meat tartare.

“I sup­port the In­dige­nous hunt and the In­dige­nous peo­ples rights,” said the pe­ti­tion’s au­thor Jen­nifer Matos in a writ­ten state­ment. “But I am against cruel and in­hu­mane com­mer­cial slaugh­ter. If your (sic) buy­ing seal meat from the com­mer­cial seal hunt and not the In­dige­nous hunt you are not only sup­port­ing a cruel and bar­baric mass slaugh­ter, but you are not sup­port­ing your own In­dige­nous peo­ple.”

The In­dige­nous-in­spired res­tau­rant opened in the spring, serv­ing re­gional food like elk, pheas­ant, veni­son and harp seal draw­ing the ire of an­i­mal rights ac­tivists, de­spite its strong cul­tural un­der­pin­nings to the Inuit.

“It’s try­ing to dic­tate what we sell,” said Chef Joseph Shawana of the pe­ti­tion and the back­lash. “It pretty much ru­ined my whole Thanks­giv­ing week­end. The amount of neg­a­tive stuff that was com­ing out of this was re­ally hurt­ful to the busi­ness, to my­self and ev­ery­one around me,” re­fer­ring to one-star re­views left on his res­tau­rant’s Face­book page and vit­ri­olic com­ments on the pe­ti­tion.

“I feel let­down by so­ci­ety as not as cul­tur­ally ed­u­cated as I thought peo­ple were,” said the 35-year-old, who’s from Wik­wemikong First Na­tion, lo­cated on Man­i­toulin Is­land.

Much thought and per­sonal his­tory has been poured into each dish, Shawana said.

A counter-pe­ti­tion defending Kukum was posted by au­thor Ay­lan Couchie, who’s from Nipiss­ing First Na­tion. By late Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, the pe­ti­tioned gar­nered about 3,100 sig­na­tures.

TORSTAR NEWS SER­VICE

Seal tartare is on the menu at Mid­town resta­raunt Kukum Kitchen.

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