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Animal-rights activists take their message to streets of St. John’s

Protesters at a previous Cube of Truth event, complete with masks and black jumpers to ensure their anonymity.
Protesters at a previous Cube of Truth event, complete with masks and black jumpers to ensure their anonymity.

It takes a lot more than simply yelling the word “bacon” from your car as you pass them to bring down the Cube of Truth — a demonstration run by animal-rights organization Anonymous for the Voiceless that vows to show the harsh reality of the agriculture food industry.

“A lot of people look at animal-rights activists as aggressive or in-your-face kind of thing. They imagine PETA supporters screaming at them in the streets, and we’re not that at all,” said Cube of Truth organizer Kayla.

The Telegram agreed to withhold her last name as a safety precaution, as she says she has, at times, received threatening emails and messages regarding past demonstrations.

“We don’t respond to it. We don’t react or yell back. We’re always calm and peaceful and respectful, and it is 100 per cent voluntary. People can just pass on by, or they can stop and watch, but nobody will force you to do anything.”

On Saturday, Cube of Truth will hold its seventh demonstration outside of the Scotiabank building on Water Street in St. John’s. “It’s called the Cube of Truth because normally, in other demonstrations across the world, they stand back-to-back in a square holding laptops, tablets or TV screens showing slaughterhouse videos,” Kayla said. “Since space is limited downtown, we stand in a line so that we don’t take up the entire sidewalk, but we still refer to ourselves as the Cube of Truth because we are still a part of Anonymous for the Voiceless.”

The protest is weather dependent and is set to start at 6:30 p.m., and people are asked to bring their own laptops and tablets, as well as download the videos from the group’s Facebook event page. People are asked to wear something black with a hood, and masks and signs will be provided.

The people standing in the line are kept anonymous, wearing the masks to protect their identity and allow the focus to be on the videos they showcase.

The people standing outside of the line, referred to as outreachers, according to Kayla, will keep an eye on everything and engage people in conversation if they appear interested in the protest. “You can choose to educate yourself, or not,” Kayla said.

A vegan for two years, Kayla told The Telegram she got into animal-rights activism about a year ago, following it on social media and eventually starting her own Cube of Truth chapter through Anonymous for the Voiceless in St. John’s in 2016.

“I saw how effective it was and just decided that I’d start a chapter here, and it’s been going really well so far.”

She says Anonymous for the Voiceless, while a large animal-rights organization in 30 countries, also only started in 2016 in Australia. As far as Newfoundland goes, St. John’s is the only place to have a Cube of Truth group, but someone in Corner Brook has contacted her about starting a second, Kayla says.

“The animal agriculture industry is an industry that is so hidden from us, no one really knows what goes on in the slaughterhouses or even in the big factory farms. But what goes on is so hidden and so horrific for the animals, so we just want to let the public know where we come from.

“People have the right to know, and then they can make a decision as to whether they want to contribute to that or not.”

Kayla says she keeps track of people who seriously change their lifestyles after participating in one of their demonstrations, and the number is currently at 90 for St. John’s.

“Keep in mind, we’re strictly a volunteer organization,” she added. “We don’t ever ask for money or donations — all we want is to expose the truth about the use and abuse of animals in our society, and help people make that connection and make more ethical lifestyle choices.”

With hopes of having bi-weekly demonstrations from now until the snowy Newfoundland winter strikes, the organization is also looking into getting a couple of virtual-reality headsets, something other Cube of Truth demonstrations have included in their protests lately. It gives people the opportunity to experience the world through the life of an animal in the agriculture industry.

“It’s much more powerful, you know? It’s like you’re actually inside of the slaughterhouse, seeing everything that’s happening,” Kayla told The Telegram.

“Anonymous for the Voiceless’ focus is the animals, so we always try to bring the conversation back to them, but we also talk about the health aspects and the environmental impact of the animal agriculture industry or of the impact on human beings,” Kayla said.

“Most of the grain that is grown in the world is used to feed animals, but yet there’s millions of people starving. … So yeah, we touch on every topic, but our focus always goes back to the animals so that people can make their own decisions.”

 

victoria.plowman@thetelegram.com

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