Over a 1000 people joined in on the Marineland Opening Demo organized by Marineland Animal Defense this weekend. It felt like a pretty awesome show of solidarity with dozens of whistleblowers facing lawsuits, the captive marine and other animal life locked up in the jail/”amusement” park, as well as the community at large (please see GoHomeless.ca,) in addition to the various SLAPP suits (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) they’ve thrown at organizers and the media and anyone else they don’t like (or threatened with lawsuits – even the OSPCA).
Heading down to the park for the day was exciting, and fun, but also a little nerve wracking. Attending protests is something I do sparingly these days, not because I don’t think they have value, but because of some negative experiences in the past. This one felt positive, constructive, and with over 1000 people gathered together, it felt like a powerful statement. Of course, it helped that the crew of people I drove down with were the friendly, great folks, and all around great people. Plus they brought PeaNOT Butter Bar’s from Dvine Cafe. How could I be anything but pumped. The soundtrack helped too.
There was a pretty diverse group out calling for a shut down of Marineland. Young and old, punk and not, some people had traveled from far away, some were local, but we all had one thing in common – we wanted to end the animal use and abuse at Marineland. There were a variety of messages, and different styles of protesting, different ways of communicating what ultimately ends up being the same message – stop hurting animals.
“Ocean animals belong in their natural habitat” – Posy O’Keefe
My favourite part, other than the huge turn out, was the amount of under-18’s saying no to Marineland. I admire these young people greatly, because it can be hard to speak out for things when most people are just trying to fit in. Many of them have really raised the bar on the advocacy work they do on their own. I listened to a fabulous speech by 12-year-old Posy O’Keefe. The sixth grader from Burlington, Ontario, took to a microphone and spoke confidently in front of hundreds of people. It was just so fantastic to see.
It’s amazing what passionate people can do, and you can especially sense that from people like 14-year-old Carrie T. She successfully convinced her school to end annual field trips to Marineland. Carrie got interested in animal rights a few months ago, put together a presentation to school staff, and made real change happen happen. The end message – you want something to change? Do what you can to make it happen. Anyone can make a difference.
And of course, there was Vijay Singh, who folded over 1,000 Origami whales for the animals at Marineland. Everyone else at the event chipped in a few whales to help him reach his Guinness Book of World Records goal. Still waiting on the final number, but it sounds like it was just under 3000!
I really like that Marineland Animal Defense has given these kids a space and allowed them a voice. I remember being that kid, and the community wasn’t nearly as friendly or welcoming. I’m so glad things have evolved for the better.
In food related news, I picked up a candy apple from Niagara Vegan Baking Militia and brought it back home to JC. Yes, a Vegan Baking Militia – such a thing exists. And it was awesome. (Now all I want to do, is be part of one in Toronto.) P.S. It was delicious.
More information about Marineland:
The Toronto Star Investigations: http://www.thestar.com/news/investigations/marineland.html
A history of Huffington Post articles on Marineland: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/tag/marineland
Marineland Animal Defense FAQ: http://marinelandanimaldefense.com/faq