Silent outrage at vigil outside Canada Goose

The animal-rights activists marching silently toward Canada Goose in Soho. Photos by Rebecca White

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | About 200 to 250 animal-rights activists gathered in Washington Square Park in the freezing cold last Saturday afternoon, then marched over to the Canada Goose store, on Wooster St. in Soho, for a half-hour silent vigil.

“We’re not here for selfies. Treat this like you would a wake,” one of their leaders, Leonardo Anguiano, announced at the start, before they went silent.

Some of them carried illuminated letters on light boards that together spelled out “CANADA GOOSE KILLS.”

Four of the protesters wore 50-inch flat-screen TV’s strapped across their chests. They displayed soundless videos of coyotes being trapped and killed to make the coats’ fur hood ruffs, or geese being “live-plucked” of their down feathers to fill the pricey parkas. Others carried smaller tablets with similar videos.

Silent vigils were a tactic the protesters adopted last year after their raucous, noisy demonstrations maddened block residents and drew the attention of police.

A woman held up a tablet showing a video of a coyote contorting in pain as it vainly tried to get its leg free of of a steel-jawed trap. Some of the animals even try to gnaw off their own legs to save their lives.

Nathan Semmel, one of the committed vegans, said while Canada Goose pitches its coats as being made for extreme cold weather, they are really just expensive status symbols.

“To see 200 of us there, in a silent vigil, none of us wearing animals, none of us suffering from frostbite,” he said, “it kind of tells you people are doing it for wealth and social status. The synthetics exist, and are getting more realistic. They’d be just as warm in them. Even if the Canada Goose coats could keep you warmer — I’m not saying they do — I don’t see how it could justify the brutality.

“I think everybody knows, to have one of these, you have to shell out quite a bit of money,” he added of the jackets. “They see rock stars and celebrities wearing these coats. They want to live that life, to have that appearance of having wealth and fame.”

Semmel said the protesters did not really engage anyone since it was a silent vigil, but that some shoppers exiting the store did laugh nervously upon being confronted with the activists’ gruesome signs and videos.

Looking a bit stunned, a Canada Goose coat owner walked the gauntlet between the silent vegan protesters, at left, and police guarding the Canada Goose store, at right.

While Semmel admitted the activists probably don’t have a realistic chance of shutting down the Canada Goose retail store, he said they have been making inroads with smaller shops that carry the company’s garments.

Specifically, Blue & Cream, at 1 E. First St., has agreed to stop carrying the coats, and the activists are currently in talks with Kith, at 337 Lafayette St., which also sells Canada Goose.

“A store like Kith is really important,” Semmel said. “They’re a very famous brand in the streetwear world. For them to stop selling fur is really meaningful because that’s the younger generation you’re going to affect. I think it’s a more compassionate generation. I think they’re more aware of oppression. These animals don’t have the ability to fight back. It’s a form of oppression. An older generation is more set in their ways.”

Canada Goose claims both its coyote fur and goose down are ethically and transparently sourced and collected under strict governmental regulations. The down is a byproduct of the poultry industry while the fur is from licensed North American trappers, the company says.

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