Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Be an Ele-friend - Baby steps to Animal Activism

The budding animal activist handing out "Ele-friend" animal stickers

Last week, my husband, my six year old daughter and I, along with approximately 50 other people, participated in a protest against the Shrine Circus in our community.  As I stood on the sidewalk outside the venue with my sign, I watched in wonder as as my child fearlessly approached families up and down the line, asking if they would like a colouring book, sticker or leaflet.  We gathered about 2 hours before the show in order to discourage those coming to buy last minute tickets.  The crowd began to swell and as the ticket holders waited in line at the entrance, my daughter stood front and centre, imploring families not to see the circus.  I was amazed at her fearlessness.          

Our friend Chris painting the cruel realities of the Circus

Witnessing her spirit, as yet un-crushed and unafraid, inspires tremendous courage in my heart to continue living the best possible life.  A life that is grounded in values of non-violence towards all living beings.  I can't think of a better way to set an example than to do what we did that night.  I'm saying, as someone who truly loves to indulge myself in pleasure, not only is it possible to make choices that create a healthy, full and joyous life without inflicting cruelty on other beings of all species, shapes and sizes, but the act of doing so, creates peace in my heart.  The fact that eating a vegan diet has improved my health in various ways is almost irrelevant.  Since the veil of denial was lifted about the purposeful, systematic, torture and killing of other sentient creatures for profit, no pleasure remains in consuming foods, products or entertainment that have been produced as a direct result of the suffering of any animal, human or non-human. 

My friend Coleen and I.
During the protest, we lined the sidewalk in front of Copps Coliseum and were confronted with the anger, guilt, apathy, discomfort and occasional sadness of those attending the evening's "entertainment".  It was a new and fascinating experience. I noticed a full range of reactions from those protesting too.  Some were calm, engaging and smiling while others could barely contain their emotions when verbal abuse was hurled at them by the uninformed (m)asses.  I understand the passion and the frustration. I was just happy to be there standing and speaking for those magnificent beings who were chained up in hot trucks in the underground parking garage of the facility.  Those beautiful creatures who had no say in what was being done to them or how their lives were being used and abused for profit.  

Some of us stayed until the very end.  I met a lovely mom from Niagara Falls who was there with her daughter as well.  She held a great sign that said "Ask your parents what the bullhooks are for".  I noticed many of the children reading the sign.  One of the protesters had actually brought two of these bullhooks obtained at an Elephant training facility in Thailand.  I touched one and was horrified.  These extremely sharp hooks are used on sensitive parts of elephant's bodies (mouth, eyes, ears, anus) where the skin is thin, to control their movements.   

As families began to filter out of the auditorium, many of them early, one mother approached me and said thank-you.  She said she was unaware there were animals involved when she bought the tickets and would never go back again.  I got goosebumps, I was thrilled that being there had made a difference.  

I had been nervous about even taking my daughter to this event, but now I see that to conquer my own fear all I have to do is watch my daughter and follow her lead. 

The budding activist

Inspiring protesters of all ages!


  1. Lee, Fabulous photos of M. and you and the protest. Thank you for doing it. I always knew you were amazing. Now I know that M. is amazing. With several capital As. I enjoy seeing and reading here more about your experience.

    I'd love for you to post all this at Facebook and at your other blog too.

    1. Thanks, Lisa! I'm so happy to be doing something, anything. I just found out that there will be a Walk for Farm Animals in Niagara and I've registered for the event. I added a badge up on the right. Hopefully M and Y will walk with me!

  2. Lee, Oh yes. It would be good for all of you. Every time I see M. with the born to be wild sign I smile!!

  3. This is a fantastic post Lee. Thank you for being there and raising M to be a compassionate, caring individual( just like her beautiful Mom!)

    1. Thanks, Coleen! You are an inspiration to me!