Ryerson’s Vegan Education Group (RU VEG) hosted its second annual fur protest near Lake Devo between Victoria and Gould streets on Friday. With fliers and signs in hand, its members set out to engage with the Ryerson community, informing them where the furs on their winter jackets come from, as well as asking them to give up their fur hoods for the cause.
“Ideally, I’d like people to reflect on their choices more and realize that there are consequences to their ‘normalized’ routines because it’s easy to separate humans from animals,” said Torstein Blight, a first-year psychology student and member of RU VEG.
As the protest unfolded, non-members joined the protest, often voicing even stronger slogans. One activist, Jenny McQueen, who does not belong to RU VEG, began to follow people wearing Canada Goose jackets, badgering them with statements such as, “One of you is wearing torture” and “Do you know you’re a murderer?”
McQueen, who has been an activist for over 20 years, is passionate about animal rights and defends her methods of getting people’s attention.
“It’s how I start to engage people to listen. That’s just my approach,” she said.
Jessica Rodriguez, a member of the advocacy group Direct Action Everywhere, was another activist who followed passersby and made similar comments.
“People know. They just don’t want to feel guilty about it,” Rodriguez said after being shown the middle finger by a student whom she had followed out of the Ryerson bookstore.
While McQueen and Rodriguez defended their actions, others were less understanding of their approach.
“I don’t appreciate being harassed for what I wear,” said Jenny Chen, who was followed for wearing a Canada Goose jacket. “I don’t like being flagged down by a crazy person to tell me that I’m a cold-blooded killer. I’m not.”
While some students recorded videos of being harassed by the activists, an unidentified woman alerted Ryerson security officials that she and many others were being harassed.
Despite this, the protest continued as planned until 2 p.m. One person did donate their fur hood to the cause and others appreciated the activists’ work, such as passerby Olivia Kinsbury.
“I think people should know what they’re supporting [when they buy fur,]” she said.
“This is a perfect opportunity to change people’s minds before buying another jacket made from the skin of a dog, fox, rabbit or beaver — just to name a few of these victims of the fur industry.”