Petition calls for seal to be taken off menu
Restaurant’s dishes reflect Indigenous heritage: Chef
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.
Seal tartare is on the menu at Midtown restaraunt Kukum Kitchen.