Sealing in the Magdalen Islands

A father and son go sealing in the Magdalen Islands, circa 2011. They are pulling a small sleigh to carry seals. Although seals are usually shot with a rifle, they are also carrying hakapiks. Hakapiks were made mandatory following an appeal from Brigitte Bardot that sealers be able to dispatch seals in the most humane way possible. The best tool for dispatching young seals humanely is the hakapik since it is impossible to miss and death is instantaneous.

Hakapiks also have other uses. The handle is used to palp the ice to see if it is thick enough to walk on. The hook is used to pull seals to the sleigh or boat. A sealer can also use the hook when he falls into the water to pull himself back onto the ice. Otherwise, he could freeze to death or be dragged by the current under the ice and drown.

Photo: Yoanis Menge / Intra-Quebec Sealers Association.