Contradictions in media portrayal of Thompson fur auction

Conibear trapThe National Post has painted an interesting picture of the trappers at the Thompson (Manitoba) fur auction. On one hand, they’re hardworking Canadians who need the fur trade to stay afloat. On the other they’re hobbyists who want to keep a dying tradition alive. The article has also managed to portray the fur industry as a strong economic force, as well as one in its dying days.

It’s an exercise in contradiction.

In recent years, the auction saw sales of furs in excess of $600,000. In late 2014, the total for the auction was $239,421.

Alan Herscovici, the mouthpiece of Fur Council of Canada, said the drop in value is the market is simply correcting itself. He also noted that there are hundreds of designers using fur – more than ever, in fact. Which, of course, is a contradiction of the basic principles of supply and demand.

The one trapper interviewed in the article is a self-declared hobbyist, who checks his 23 traps twice per week (which means three-to-four days of suffering in traps). The article does point out that there are 70,000 trappers across the country for many of whom “it is a livelihood.”

A simple fact check on that one would have been in order: Statistics Canada’s latest census shows that 455 individuals across the country self-identify as professional trappers. It also left out the fact that the vast majority – well more than the half reported – of the income from the fur industry is from fur farms.

Tradition, culture and heritage were words bandied about in the article. They’re the hot words being used by trappers in defense of their archaic practices. After all – trapping was the foundation of our country. Trappers do tend to leave out big swatches of our history – exploitation of aboriginal peoples, destruction of ecosystems, Japanese internment camps, and lack of women’s rights… well, you get the picture.

Simply because it was at one-time how things were done is no reason to keep trapping and the fur industry going. And in a community like Thompson, where new ways of generating economic stimulus are needed, perhaps citizens should look to the future, rather than to a failed past.


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