Who are you wearing?
March 28th, 2017
The cruel reality behind Canada Goose jackets
One of this year’s most popular choices for winter apparel has been the Canada Goose jacket, with its recognizable arm patch and fur trimmed hood. Costing around $900.00 CDN and up per jacket, Canada Goose is undoubtedly a luxury brand, trendy, desirable, and has certainly reached UBCO.
These Canadian-made jackets’ popularity signify a troubling shift in perceptions toward fur. Despite anti-fur attitudes increasing in recent decades, these jackets’ luxury branding and careful marketing have spurred a shift in the opposite direction. Where the fur comes from is a fact not necessarily considered when the main focus is fashion, style, and warmth. Regardless of changing perceptions, the violent reality of this fur trim has not changed.
The reality is that coyotes are trapped and killed for Canada Goose fur trims. According to cognitive ethologist Marc Bekoff, coyotes play, form bonded pairs, feel sadness, and even grieve—a distressing fact considering that Canada Goose chooses to indiscriminately kill members of these bonded groups. Coyotes are sentient, gregarious, and emotional beings, closely related to wolves and domesticated dogs. Therefore, coyotes share the intellectual and emotional capacities that we easily recognize in our canine companions.
Yet, coyotes are often perceived as pests, a perception that Canada Goose relies on; indeed, their website claims that in North America, “coyotes are considered a pest as they attack livestock, endangered prey species, pets and sometimes even people.” However, this perception is based on misunderstanding, not fact. Predator Defense, a nonprofit that helps humans and predators peacefully co-exist, asserts that coyotes play a vital role in our ecosystems and most problematic interactions result from humans encroaching on coyotes’ natural territories. Regardless, Canada Goose plays no role in the control of “nuisance” animals, as fur trapping kills indiscriminately and solely for profit.
According to the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals (APFA), Canada Goose procures its fur from Canadian fur trappers who use leg-hold traps. Despite being banned by 7 US states and over 100 countries, these traps remain legal in Canada. Regardless of age, health, and gender, the animals’ limbs are caught in these traps. With a desperate desire to live, these animals often attempt to chew off their own trapped limbs and frequently die doing so. Additionally, APFA states that these animals often succumb to dehydration, blood loss and hypothermia. Those who survive the 24-72 hour wait are clubbed, stomped, suffocated, or choked to death by the trapper so the pelt does not get damaged. Ironically, despite Canada Goose claiming that coyotes threaten other species, leg hold traps regularly kill or harm non-target species. According to the nonprofit organization Born Free USA, these “trash” animals include endangered and protected species such as lynx, wolverines, and cougars, as well as dogs, cats, deer, birds, and even humans. APFA claims that non-target animals actually account for upwards of 67% of the overall catch.
Fur is often justified because Canada’s fur industry comes from a longstanding tradition, one that Canada was founded on. However, this is a tradition based on colonialism and the destruction of Canada’s own species. Indeed, the Government of Canada’s Species at Risk Public Registry states that intensive trapping has historically led to the endangerment or extirpation of sea otters, swift foxes, and the Eastern population of wolverines, as well as the extinction of sea minks.
I for one hope for a world in which compassion, not fur, is a status symbol. Furthermore, I believe, without question, that UBCO students want to create a future based on equality, compassion, and ethical treatment for all, and that these beliefs should be not be undermined for fashion.