As a member of the newly created local animal advocacy group, Taking Action for Animals in Winnipeg, I participated in our inaugural protest — the Professional Bull Riders event held at MTS Centre on Sat. Sept. 17, and I think we did a pretty good job.
I was both nervous and excited to publicly raise my voice in support of the voiceless.
Most of the Taking Action for Animals in Winnipeg members are vegan and live by a do no harm set of values. Being vegan means that a person does not support the commodification of animals and adheres to a plant based diet as well as refrains from using animal derived products and by products. Vegans follow these guidelines in support of the belief that animals belong to themselves, not humans.
Based on this lifestyle, as a group we prepared for the event, strategizing the protest location, creating signs, exchanging words of moral support and comfort. For most of us, meeting on the corner of Portage Ave. and Smith St. was our first in person introduction.
The overall tone of the group was one of a shared common goal infused with a fiery passion to defend the defenseless.
As each member of our small group arrived, warm and heartfelt greetings were exchanged. For the entirety of the protest we supported one another with smiles, hugs and cheers when our efforts were acknowledged in a positive way.
During the two hours we leafleted, circulated signage and verbally interacted with various curious and/or angry bystanders, our group remained focused on the truth of our presence outside MTS Centre.
We stood strong on behalf of the captive and innocent participants of the bull riding event. We stood with signs held high and hearts full of love for the bulls we could not save from a life of imprisonment and slavery. We bore the verbal abuse, jeers, dirty looks and the finger pointing, for the sake of the animals who did not choose the life they are forced to live. Bulls do not volunteer for this life, they are born or sold into it.
For the uninformed, bull riding may certainly seem like an exciting sport; clever marketing and promotional advertisements work their magic to ensure that the illusion cloaks the reality.
But behind the scenes, the spotlight dulls and the ugly truth can be seen. For the eight seconds of thrill riding the audience sees, the bulls are denied their freedom, paying the ultimate price of a life of confinement and drudgery.
Taking Action for Animals in Winnipeg spoke with Andrew Giangola, Head of Communications at PBR regarding allegations of abuse and torture that surround the bull riding industry. Mr. Giangola said the animals are treated with the utmost care and are given more than adequate downtime between and during events.
Assurances by those associated with PBR that bulls are not mistreated brings little comfort, which is why our group stands behind the purpose of the protest. Because of ongoing controversy surrounding bull riding “entertainment” as a whole, it is the goal of Taking Action for Animals in Winnipeg to support animal rights whenever possible.
For an animal meant to be roaming free in fields and meadows to be confined to small quarters is a travesty and a shame on humans. For these innocent and majestic bulls we suspect are prodded with electricity and treated with painful tail pulling techniques, shame on humans. For helpless animals to be carted from venue to venue, treated as nothing more than a commodity, shame on humans.
For a tiny group of ten vegan animal advocates to stand fast in the face of insensitive and cruel passersby and cowboys, amazing. For a 17 year old girl to form an animal advocacy group and organize a protest event, amazing. For the same group of people to sit together after the protest to organize more information sharing and animal protection events, amazing.
Our purpose as a group is to shine the light of justice into the darkness of animal abuse. We believe that education is the key to opening eyes and hearts in order to reveal what the animal entertainment, factory farming, dairy farming and poultry industries do not want you to know.
The veils must be parted, the lies can no longer be tolerated. The truth is our mission and with each future action and protest, we invite you to add your voice to ours as we speak up to save the animals.