Today is Fur-Free Friday, and tomorrow we’re aware of protests taking place in locations straight across Canada. And as compassionate and passionate advocates hit the streets, we wanted to provide some tips on effective advocacy – and a few reminders about The Fur-Bearers’ mandate.
Start with a conversation: while we understand the anger and frustration felt by all animal lovers faced with the realities of the fur trade, changing an opinion is more likely to happen with a conversation than a complaint. Talking to people politely and calmly, while providing them information about the fur trade is more likely to lead to sustainable change.
Always be compassionate: the compassion we feel and want for the animals must always be reflected in those we speak with. Despite the rudeness, belligerence, or even implied violence of those who promote fur (or wear it), we cannot respond in kind. Compassion is only possible when it’s applied to everyone equally – including those who feel none themselves.
Embrace beauty, not cruelty: graphic images can make some people pay attention – but they turn away just as many, if not more, people who are uncomfortable with the bloody realities of the fur trade. Finding non-gruesome imagery can be very helpful in engaging with people to discuss fur. It’s also important to recognize not all of these photos are true representations – or even from Canada. Be aware of the origin of photos, and if you’re not sure, don’t use them.
Avoid hyperbole: the fates facing fur-bearing animals are horrible – and they don’t need sensationalizing or exaggeration. In fact, this kind of hyperbole can hurt the cause, as the fur industry can quickly dismiss falsehoods (that all animals are skinned alive, for instance) and avoid any real problems.
Stay warm and stay safe: we want everyone to dress appropriately (with layers, not fur!) and stay safe while advocating on the streets. Please stay in groups and let friends or family know when you should be expected home following an advocacy event.
We also want to take this opportunity to remind advocates – and those who may be new to The Fur-Bearers – that we have a strict non-violence policy. We do not condone or endorse any behaviour that is or could be perceived to be violence (including aggressive protesting). It should also be recognized that our mandate is specifically to protect and speak on behalf of fur-bearing animals in the wild and captivity, and promote co-existence with wildlife. Other organizations who may also be participating in this weekends’ events have different mandates that do not necessarily match or reflect the beliefs of The Fur-Bearers, and we do not want to be confused or unnecessarily grouped together. Please avoid mixing our literature with that of other groups.
We strongly believe that compassionate conversation, paired with honest education, will lead to a Canada where can proudly say we were able to #MakeFurHistory.