Do you think the Canadian fur industry is good for the indigenous population? We hope so; it’s important that the general public believes the industry is fundamental to the cultural and economic survival of native Canadians, whether or not it be true. If anything, the fact that you believe this proves that the many marketing campaigns designed by industry professionals to promote this “fact” (which happens to be fiction) have been successful.
One of the most fundamental values of many indigenous communities is respect for animals and a reverence for all life; moreover, if an animal is killed the whole body must be utilised. So, in reality, the commercial destruction of animal populations for fashion, as well as the discarding of animal carcasses in a wasteful manner, is in direct contradiction to these traditional value systems i.e. a true subsistence lifestyle - a fact we have successfully hidden from naïve consumers.
The fur industry in Canada employs 2% of the indigenous population on a part-time basis and, as luck would have it, trapping is the lowest income earning position. Even though in total the fur industry in Canada turns over in excess of $800 million a year, only 1% of the profit generated is paid to the indigenous trappers – all 25,000 of them - equating to approximately $400 each. Yes, $400. Annually. In case you were wondering why they earn so little it’s because they have virtually no stake in the manufacture or retail areas, which is where the big bucks are to be made.
We do have good intentions, of course, and this is why the industry has consistently and deliberately opposed indigenous initiatives to label native trapped furs. The reason for this is simple: native trapped furs account for only 3% of the pelts that are sold in North America and if people were allowed to buy only native trapped furs, the industry would collapse. So, it’s for the greater good that we oppress the indigenous population. In fact, it’s probably true to say that the fur industry is deemed the most underhand source of prejudice against native Canadians. We position token indigenous people at the forefront of our marketing to get support for what is in actual fact a white fashion industry; in reality, the commercial fur trade was brought to Canada by Europeans, and used ever since as a form of oppression.
The best part is the fact that the Fur Council of Canada is heavily subsidised by the government, thereby using taxpayers’ dollars – YOUR money - to present our misleading arguments!