On Ho Plaza, Lucy Contreras ’21 defiantly faced the Thursday afternoon passersby with the words “Fur Kills” painted across her abdomen and an apparently blood-drenched Canada Goose jacket wrapped around her body.
The blood was fake, as was the jacket — an imitation with a “Canada Douche” sticker where one would normally find the coat’s iconic sleeve patch.
Contreras, who is a Sun opinion columnist, and her fellow demonstrators aimed to raise awareness about the animal cruelty involved in making the products of the ubiquitous winter-time brand. The coats use goose feathers, most commonly obtained by plucking live geese without any painkillers, and leaving open wounds before they are killed, according to Contreras, president of Cornell Vegan Society and Sun opinion columnist.
The detachable fur trim around the hood of the coat is made of coyote fur, Contreras said. This fur is obtained by capturing wild coyotes in steel traps, where they are often left to agonize for days — suffering from gangrene, dehydration, or attacked by other predators before the trapper returns, according to PETA. If still alive at this point, they are bludgeoned, stomped, or strangled to death, said Contreras.
The demonstrators hoped that those who currently own Canada Goose products never buy from them again and donate the detachable coyote-fur trim of their coats. Several organizations, including PETA and the Wildlife Rescue League, accept donations of furs and redistribute them to rehabilitating animals in shelters or homeless people.
And for those who don’t own Canada Goose products, the demonstrators want them to consider animal cruelty when they buy products such as coats, pillows and comforters.
Chloe Cabrera grad, a participant in the demonstration, called for people to make more responsible consumer choices.
“Each Canada Goose jacket requires seven birds and two coyotes. That’s nine animals dying for virtually no reason, for an overpriced coat that works just as well as any vegan coat,” Cabrera said.
Ultimately, Contreras said, geese and coyotes suffer and die on behalf of the market demand for Canada Goose.
The demonstration was “eye-opening,” Paul Agbaje ’22 said after speaking with a protester.
“No matter how you feel about it, people seem to just mindlessly buy these Canada Goose jackets, without ever considering the ethical implications,” he said.
Jacob Mitrani ’21 said he appreciated learning about down-free coat options from the demonstrators, and left questioning the materials of his own coat.
Other onlookers were less keen, making hostile comments about the demonstration as they walked by.
Contreras is understanding of negative responses like these. “I feel like this shame and this frustration is the beginning of a process of acceptance and of actually taking action against Canada Goose,” she said.
“We’re not blaming them,” Contreras said. “We just want them to know, in the future, to buy jackets that don’t have down or fur.”
Contreras declared the demonstration a success, describing it as one step towards a better public understanding of the relationship between everyday expenditures and animal exploitation.
She encourages friends and peers of Canada Goose wearers to engage them in dialogue. On campus, conversations about ethical consumption are on the rise — Cornell Vegan Society has risen from just a handful of members two years ago to about twenty five today, according to Contreras.
A point of discussion throughout the course of the demonstration was Canada Goose’s connotation of elitism given the hefty prices of its signature products, many of which exceed $1,000. Contreras noted that some Cornell students feel pressured to buy a Canada Goose jacket as a social status symbol.
She wants them to know that, “with that social status, you are hurting a lot of beings in the process. And it’s not worth it.”