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Beluga hunt backlash

An Inuit father who posted a photo on Twitter expressing pride in his son's first beluga whale harvest says he's received a lot of online backlash from people who don't understand life in the North.

When someone harvests a whale in Rankin Inlet it's a celebration for the whole community, said Albert Netser. But it's more special when it happens for the first time.

So when his 16-year-old son Nangaat harpooned a beluga whale earlier this week in the Hudson Bay, like any proud parent, he wanted to share the achievement. He shared the photo, showing his son proudly smiling standing on rocks at the edge of the water in front of the dead whale, with his 388 twitter followers on Monday.

"It's something very special traditionally, culturally. The first harvest of any person was given out to the community or to the namesake of the child and, you know, this is what we did with the harvest," Netser said.

But soon after, the notifications on his phone started to blow up with many people sending derogatory comments about the whale being killed.

Netser tried to engage with some of the people by sharing the significance of the moment for Inuit. He explained that very few belugas are harvested in the community, maybe one a season if they are lucky, and every part of the animal is used.

"We eat it raw, we eat it boiled, we eat it cooked, we eat it as smoked sausage, you know, out of the intestines," he said. "People eat the meat, they fry the meat, they dry the meat. There are many ways of eating it. It's just to your preference."

Some of the people were receptive and appreciated learning about Inuit culture.

"I just want to apologize for my ignorance… I am deeply remorseful for my despicable comment," one user said.

But the block user option became a welcome relief for those that continued to post disparaging comments, Netser said.

"There are some pretty harsh things that were mentioned. I'm just happy my son didn't see them," he said, adding he did share the many supportive tweets with his son.

"They do mean well maybe for the animal, but they just don't know our culture as well."



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