Business

Canada Goose faces wrath of animal rights activists as it opens more stores

Anti-fur activists have found a new target: Canada Goose. Their big beef is the coyote fur used to line jacket hoods. Activists are promising a 'loud' protest today at the opening of the company's new NYC store.

Activists promise a 'loud' protest this afternoon at the company's new NYC location

Animal rights activists are taking aim at Canada Goose and the coyote fur that lines the hoods of the company's coats. (PETA)

The protesters' signs are hard to ignore: A picture of a Canada Goose coat with coyote fur trim, placed next to a photo of dead coyote, or a distraught live one caught in a leg-hold trap.

"People don't realize the cruelty," says animal rights activist, Jacinta McDonnell. She and a handful of fellow protesters stand ground outside a busy Toronto store selling the trendy jackets.

"It's abhorrent," comments passerby Brenda Lazare about the coats. However she says her 13-year-old daughter would love one.

Protester Susan Banks in Toronto holds a sign showing a dead coyote next to Canada Goose jackets lined with coyote fur trim. (CBC)

As full-length minks fall out of fashion, anti-fur activists have found a new target: Canada Goose. Their big beef is the coyote fur used to line jacket hoods.   

Founded in Toronto, the winter apparel company sold a majority stake to a U.S. private equity firm in 2013 to help expand its international market.

As the company's jackets grow in popularity, so does the anti-Canada Goose movement. 

Canada Goose says it's deeply committed to the responsible use and ethical sourcing of fur. (Canada Goose)

The company claims real fur helps better protect faces from frostbite. It also says it doesn't condone "any willful mistreatment" of animals and buys only from licensed trappers.

"Canada Goose remains deeply committed to the responsible use and ethical sourcing of all animal materials," said spokesman Josh Zeliger in an email to CBC News. 

Animal rights activists argue there's nothing ethical about the fur trade.

"It's [leg-hold] trapped, the animals freeze, starve to death, sometimes chew their legs off to get back to their families," claims McDonnell. And if the trapped coyote manages to survive, the trapper shoots it dead, she says.

Animal rights activists protest outside a Toronto store that sells Canada Goose jackets. (CBC)

McDonnell's make-shift protest is small and peaceful. But activists say they're about to ramp it up.

"We're going to be going really hard after this company. This is our main target this year," declares NYC animal rights activist Rob Banks.

He has organized a protest Thursday afternoon at Canada Goose's grand opening of its new standalone store in New York City.

"It's on a very busy street and we're going to be very loud."

Banks blames Canada Goose for bolstering the fur industry by sparking a fur-trim trend. "If we can knock this company down, then we're really going to see a dent" in the industry, he says.

Last month PETA protesters crashed the grand opening of the first standalone Canada Goose store in Toronto. (PETA)

Last month, PETA protesters hit the opening of the company's first standalone location in Toronto.

The international animal rights group also plans to make an appearance on opening day in NYC. PETA says its protest will include members lying on the ground with their arms caught in leg-hold traps. They'll also be wearing "bloodied" Canada Goose jackets.

"It's time for Canada Goose to stop supporting this needless violence and switch to animal and eco-friendly faux-fur trim," said PETA spokeswoman, Catie Cryar.

Canada Goose's new flagship retail location opens today in New York City. (Canada Goose)

"This is just the start of it," promises Banks. He says that he and fellow activists plan to protest outside Canada Goose's NYC store a few times a week.

Already, a coalition of animal rights groups called NYC United for Animals is planning a second protest at the store this Sunday. 

Even celebrities get hit

Celebrities have also become a target. In August, comedian Amy Schumer was bombarded by a handful of protesters at a book signing in NYC.

They crashed the event chanting, "Fur trade, death trade."

In the past, Schumer has been photographed wearing a Canada Goose jacket.

Amy Schumer recently faced the wrath of animal rights activists for wearing a coyote fur-line Canada Goose jacket. (SplashNewsOnline.com/TMZ)

Banks says he was part of that protest. "We just kind of went up there and let everyone know that she's promoting an industry that tortures and murders animals for nothing more than a fashion statement."

According to celebrity news website, TMZ, a rep for Schumer said she got the jacket as a gift, and had already stopped wearing it after learning about allegations that the company harms animals.

Banks believes the protest was still a success because Schumer let the world know she no longer wears her coat "after finding out the cruelty behind that brand."

Will protests hurt the brand?

CBC News asked Canada Goose about the ongoing protests. Spokesman, Zeliger responded in reference to PETA, stating that the group "has sought to mislead consumers through a series of attacks" that ignores the company's commitment to "a responsible use of fur."

Canada Goose's sales remain strong, climbing by a whopping 450 per cent since 2011.

But the activism could have some effect. "I think it's pretty sad, it's not very ethical," says Sam Safiyari after observing the Toronto protest.

He learned about Canada Goose's use of fur from animal rights groups on Facebook and says he would probably never buy one of the jackets.

Protestor Caronline Wong in Toronto holds a sign showing a coyote caught in a leg-hold trap next to a Canada Goose model. (CBC)

But Neil Smith, who owns a Canada Goose coat, is not fazed by the campaign. "It happens to have fur but I didn't buy it for that."

Instead, he says he made the purchase because he believes in the product.

"It's a nice quality jacket. I like that it's warm."

Animal rights groups like PETA also take issue with the down stuffing in the coats, claiming it's supplied by ducks and geese that are "violently killed" and then plucked.

Canada Goose says it only buys down that's a by-product of the poultry industry.

About the Author

Sophia Harris

Business reporter

Sophia Harris has worked as a CBC video journalist across the country, covering everything from the start of the annual lobster fishery in Yarmouth, N.S., to farming in Saskatchewan. She now has found a good home at the business unit in Toronto. Contact: sophia.harris@cbc.ca

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.