Moose hunters in the Cape Breton Highlands of Nova Scotia recently came under criticism from one of the region's indigenous people for shooting a rare albino moose, an animal the Mi'kmaq culture considers sacred.
While the hunters claim they didn't know of the animal's significance to the tribe, disapproving channels circulated images of the dead animal and three men on the internet. CBC news says the hunters have since apologized and donated the hide to the tribe. Millbrook First Nation Chief Bob Gloade says they will honor the animal in a four-day ceremony beginning next Thursday.
"They're going to set an altar where the hide will be. There will be offerings and there will be prayers," he said. "It's a way of releasing the spirit of the animal back to its rightful place."
While the hunters legally harvested the moose, Gloade said the situation illustrates the separation between the Mi'kmaq people and mainstream culture.
"If they understood, they might have had second thoughts about seeking out this animal and hunting it."
Gloade also spoke with the Department of Natural Resources about ways to protect albino moose from hunters, including legislative action or relocation to a provincial park off-limits to hunters.
"There was a lot of anger, frustration, confusion and bitterness for the lack of understanding of Mi'kmaq culture," he said. "How this was displayed was an insult to a lot of people."