Canada Goose: not so Canadian?

A Canada Goose parka along the Bow River in Calgary on Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. (Photo by Dre Kwong/SAIT)

Canada Goose, the popular outerwear brand, has come under scrutiny by animal-rights advocacy groups and media regarding its sourcing methods of coyote fur and down goose feathers.


The brand has become ubiquitous in developed cities with harsh winter conditions. Its jackets feature Canadian Hutterite feathers as their down insulation and coyote fur trim at the hood. 


“Canada Goose…they see more value [in utilizing furs and the supply chain from the trapping community] rather than artificial fabrics or substances,” said Bill Abercrombie, president and spokesperson for Alberta Trappers, a hunting and trapping advocacy group.


Many claim the brand is worth the steep price tag, but others argue a jacket should not come at the expense of an animal’s life.


Furs and feathers

“It’s 2020 now, and we’ve had for quite a while many different techniques and textiles available to us that are very efficient in keeping us warm and dry in conditions as extreme as possible,” said Trev Miller, an organizer and animal-rights advocate with Calgary Animal Rights Effort (CARE).


“At this point, there’s no need for us to support any practices that involve inherent abuse or cruelty.”


A fiscal report by the company stated its revenue increased almost 28 per cent in the second quarter of 2020, in excess of $630 million USD.


The company states its furs are humanely sourced at a high standard.


“We do not condone any willful mistreatment, neglect, or acts that maliciously cause animals undue suffering,” said Canada Goose’s official website.


“We strongly support the ethical, responsible and sustainable use of fur. We only purchase fur from certified Canadian trappers, who live close to land and maintain traditions that have been passed down through generations.”


Coyote furs are independently collected by North American trappers, who then sell them to Canada Goose.


The circle of life?

“Life and death are parts of nature. Rather than having an animal die and rot in a bush we’re utilizing it humanely,” said Abercrombie.


“In Alberta, trappers have a large number of coyotes every year. The reality is coyotes are an animal that needs to be managed because of risks, not only to pets and livestock around urban and rural communities, but also to public safety,” said Abercrombie.


Canada Goose follows regulations established by Canada’s Agreement of International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS).


The regulations for coyote furs, which Canada Goose sources extensively, demand at least 80 per cent of collected carcasses show no signs of undue harm. The policy’s definition of harm encompasses everything from “excessive immobility and unresponsiveness” to amputation and even death.


“Approved traps must either kill the animal quickly or they hold it unharmed, one or the other. The conditions are if the animal is being held it must be checked in a regular fashion so the animal is not over-stressed,” said Abercrombie.


Questions of ethics

Animal-rights advocates say the company is nonetheless harming animals for capital gain.


As for feathers that fill jackets’ down insulation, the company outsources them from a third-party producer, Feather Industries.


On its website, Feather Industries maintains that “all down and feathers bought, processed, and sold is a by-product of the waterfowl meat industry.”


The company insists it only buys down from farms that “ensure all partners are practicing the ethical and humane treatment of their animals.” This includes a ban on farms that practice force-feeding or live-plucking.


“We can easily use other alternatives,” said Miller.


“In some cases, under tests, I’ve heard some synthetic materials perform even better in terms of providing protection.


“We do have a need to stay warm and we have a need for winter jackets. What we don’t have a need for is fur trim on those jackets and we don’t need down in those jackets.”


Canada Goose storefronts declined to comment and their media contact did not respond to requests for comment.

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