Predictably roaming throughout the streets of Wolfville, frequenting pubs and classes alike, can be seen a new tribe of carnivorous canines. No, they are not as vivacious as they once were, in their natural habitat. Instead, they lie limp, cozied up on the shoulders of those who sport the oh-so-fashionable Canada Goose Parka. And, from October to March (at least) they are ubiquitous across Canadian campuses and cities. A deep seated hunger, having been transmuted perhaps, from beast to person, has beset those who transcribe to this paradox of a fashion statement. The parkas in question are, admittedly, handsome. The problem is that the ethics behind these garments are, without a doubt, dubious.
Be forewarned: Canada Goose has tried to sugar coat their misdeeds with all the publicity befitting their costly products. From their seemingly official “fur policy” statements to You Tube videos, this company is clearly trying hard to muddle any ethical quandaries associated with their garment. To begin with, their website states, “Canada Goose is deeply committed to the preservation of our global environment and the humane treatment of animals.” Immediately, this statement raises a red flag. We are all adults and capable of handling the truth hidden beneath Canada Goose’s vague language. Yet, this company chooses to brand themselves as environmentally conscious and purports to treat animals ethically. This is a blatant lie, as they are willfully withholding the whole truth from their consumers. Instead, they offer up a fashion statement with an absurd cost, both environmentally and financially.
Upon inspection, it would appear that, in fact, their adherence to the guidelines set out by the Fur Council of Canada has little substance. This is based on the simple truth that The Fur Council of Canada has no legal authority in this country. Contrary to the authoritarian tone of their title, The Fur Council of Canada is little more than the marketing body for the fur industry. Essentially, they can say whatever people want to hear in order to sell more goods. Despite this fairly accessible piece of information, the Canada Goose Company asserts that the fur industry is a sustainable one. Yet, traps are not selective. This means that many endangered species, and pets, get caught in them. For example, in 2011 a trapper in Manitoba caught one of the only four cougars spotted in that province since 1973. Furthermore, “trash animals,” what are not considered of financial benefit, make up to 67% of the annual fur trade catch. This alone renders the Canada Goose Company’s claim to environmental preservation void. Still worse, the type of traps that are used in Canada are reminiscent to instruments of medieval torture. The leg hold trap used here has already been banned in many countries (such as those of the European Union), as well as individual states south of the border. The fact that many animals die torturous deaths trying to escape these traps is obviously inhumane, and another strike against the Canada Goose claim to stewardship.
Perhaps what is most offensive about this company—and the stranglehold they seem to have on young adults who just want to stay warm—is their unabashed use of Canadian icons. Their brand extolls visions of hardy persons in the great white north, whose primary concern is function above fashion. Certainly, there is a place for fur. Its use is not necessarily abhorrent. But where most of Canada’s population straddles the U.S. border, and more than half of us are urbanites, the Canada Goose Company’s vision of an iconic Canada is little more than a selling tactic. Considering the Canada Goose Parka has been touted as the “uniform” for young 16-24 year olds across the country, it would seem that as a nation we have devoured this brand for all its worth. This is despite the fact that, for most of us, the risk of frostbite is not a daily concern when walking to class. In the end, there is something disheartening about the exchange of animal’s lives to support the vanity of the upper middle-class. Canada Goose Parkas are, put simply, a badge of greed.