Note: This is another part in our Activist Spotlight series, where we shine a light on Care2 members who are making a difference in their communities.
We all know about injustices in our world. Whether your blood boils when you hear about Syrian citizens being subjected to terrible violence by their own military or hens raised in cramped and dirty cages, there should come a point when outrage channels into action. Devon Kiley, an eloquent and outspoken Canadian animal right activist, has more experience taking action than many people three times her age.
When Devon was a college student in Toronto, she learned about Canada’s annual commercial seal hunt. Each winter, hundreds of thousands of seals are clubbed to death off Canada’s east coast, their blood staining the snow red. Seal fat is sold for use in various consumer products, and the creatures are also hunted for their meat and pelts. However, the Canadian government’s generous yearly hunting quota is actually decimating the seal population, according to scientists and environmentalists.
“The more I researched this atrocity, the more appalled and disgusted I became,” Devon says. “I aspired to become a voice for this issue.”
In November of 2008, she put together a petition on Care2. Empowered by its initial popularity, she ramped up her activism, adding her voice to the national conversation both online and in the streets. Working tirelessly, she initiated connections not just in her local community but on a national scale. She participated in animal welfare rallies and gained important sponsorships with organizations such as the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). After a coincidental meeting with activist Kimberly Carroll at a coffeehouse in Toronto, Devon was even able to get in touch with Senator Mac Harb, a well-known advocate for Canada’s seal population. With his endorsement, Devon’s Care2 petition went from popular to wildly popular, ultimately garnering over 148,615 signatures.
Unfortunately, despite tremendous work on the part of individuals and organizations around the world, Senator Harb’s efforts to protect seals in Canada ultimately failed. No other senators supported his 2009 bill, and the issue was dropped from the senate agenda.
However, Devon isn’t discouraged. She thinks it’s only a matter of time before commercial seal hunting will be a thing of the past. The year after her petition closed, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus prohibited the import and export of fur from harp seals. She explains how she saw this coming: “On my petition, Kazakhstan garnered 1,610 signatures, Belarus garnered 2,353, and the Russian Federation garnered an outstanding 85,025, with Canada only putting forth 1,868.”
She adds, “The United States and the European Union – Canada’s two largest trading partners – have also ended their trade in seal products… Individuals such as Sherly Fink from IFAW, Senator Mac Harb, and Kimberly Carroll are a few individuals who work on this issue and bring a great deal of hope.”
Devon initially used Care2 because she knew it was the best place to create a petition that would attract attention, but she has stayed active because of how the Care2 community inspires her.
“After discovering Care2, my eyes were introduced to a marvelous association that focuses on helping the world,” she asserts. “I had never seen such an involved community with such devotion. Care2 has given me knowledge of so many issues I would of [sic] never known had existed. This site has become one that is very important to me, one that I share and encourage people around me to become a part of.”
Thank you, Devon, for all your hard work!