In April 2001, several Governments were meeting in Quebec City for a summit and several groups came together to form a protest against corporate globalization in reaction to that summit.
Amongst these groups that participated in the protests was the Global Action Network, in which I was a member.
I was in my second year at Concordia University in Montreal where I was studying environmental geography. Therefore I was very well-informed on what was going on and I participated in many events. Including that one time in Montreal where I was seen on television alongside members of the organization playing an enormous drum in the middle of the band while we were marching around Montreal.
For the occasion, the group arranged a free trip to Quebec—the one I went to with my father to protest against animal cruelty on farms. In North America, the majority of farms are factory farms where the animals are treated like mere everyday products, with little consideration for their well-being.
Most of the time, chickens, pigs and cows are born and die in small enclosures or tiny cages without even setting “foot” outside or see what outside is like.
The organization I was part of specialized in animal rights and went against circus, factory farms, the use of animal fur for coats, intensive dog breeding, amongst other things. The managers were strict vegetarians and completely dedicated to the cause.
We went to the march, put on cow costumes with a white overall with black long sleeves and some pretty well-applied mascara. There was even the baby of one of the volunteers who was dressed up as a calf. And thus, there we were, marching in the streets of Quebec City alongside a thousand people defending various social and environmental causes.
When the march was over, we resumed our visit of the town until the tear gas the police used to disperse protesters became too intolerable. It was one of the most important demonstrations in the history of the province.
Did doing what we did change something? We all know the answer to that question but the important thing is to participate.
The image of a group of people dressed up as cows went round the world. My mom back in Argentina even kept a newspaper clipping with our picture on it and never, ever will I tell her that my dad dressed up as a cow as well on that day.
Author: Helena Arroyo
Translation: Noëlla Moussa