June 14, 2012 St. John’s,  NL  –    Not every business’s grand opening features a Mi’kmaq smudging ceremony, a sealskin ribbon-cutting and the provincial leader of the Opposition agreeing with a cabinet minister. But NaturaL Boutique on Water Street carries the weight of a provincial industry tied up in Newfoundland’s historical identity — not to mention one that is the target of environmental and anti-animal-cruelty groups the world over. The boutique — owned by Jennifer and Kerry Shears, who also own the Gros Morne Wildlife Museum and Gift Shop in Rocky Harbour — cut the sealskin ribbon with a traditional ulu Tuesday morning. The shop opened its doors June 7.

Frank Pinhorn, president of the Canadian Sealers Association, who gave a speech at the opening,  noted that the industry hunted 70,000 seals last season, almost double its catch of 38,000 the previous season. Next year, he said, they’ve got their sights set on 200,000 to 300,000, which is still far less than the provincial quota of 400,000 seals. Telegram story is here.

Visit NaturaL Boutiques website here

Federal fisheries minister Keith Ashfield

Federal fisheries minister Keith Ashfield tries on a sealskin coat on Thursday with help from Jennifer Shears, owner of NaturaL Boutique in St. John’s. (Photo: DFO)