Toronto Film Festival Kicks Off With Animal Rights Protest

PETA

Activists led by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals staged a demonstration outside Bell Lightbox over TIFF's awards prize sponsorship deal with Canada Goose.

Animal rights activists on Thursday took a stand against luxury parka maker Canada Goose's sponsorship of the Toronto Film Festival just as the star-studded event got underway.

Around 25 protesters, led by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, assembled in front of Bell Lightbox on King Street, headquarters for TIFF, to voice their concerns over how Canada Goose sources its coyote fur and goose down to make its puffy jackets.

"Canada Goose is a Canadian company. We're Canadian and proud to be from Canada, but the fact that Canada Goose is exploiting animals is obscene," Toronto activist Rhea Akler told The Hollywood Reporter as she held a placard as part of the demonstration.

The parka maker is sponsoring the juried best Canadian film award at TIFF, which comes with $30,000 in prize money.

Tricia Lebkuecher, a campaigner for PETA, insisted her animal rights group had asked the Toronto Film Festival over the years to follow the Berlin Film Festival in 2017 and end its sponsorship deal with the global retailer. "We would like TIFF to stop partnering with this cruel company," she told THR.

This week, Pamela Anderson, acting on behalf of PETA, wrote TIFF artistic director and co-head Cameron Bailey to urge that the fashion line's sponsorship of the festival end after this year's edition owing to alleged animal rights abuses.

TIFF in a statement defended its continuing sponsorship from Canada Goose, as it argued the global retailer "is abiding by all applicable Canadian laws and continues to support Canadian and international filmmakers through a wide variety of sponsorships and investments."

Said Canada Goose in its own statement, "We are disappointed that PETA continues to grossly misinform their celebrity spokespeople about our use and sourcing of fur and down, and we would encourage them to do their research first and not misrepresent the facts."

The animal rights group frequently targets Canada Goose retail stores with protests. Representatives for Canada Goose could not be reached for comment over the latest TIFF animal rights protest.