Looking back and making these lists is always so hard because they are never truly representative of EVERYTHING that people are doing in their communities to oppose animal captivity at Marineland. The combined effort of all of those heated conversations with friends, postering and leafletting at schools and universities, film screenings for school clubs, emails to Principals and Teachers – all of that stuff is the engine that drives an opposition that Marineland cannot touch with land leases, lawsuits or intimidation. Still, for those who want to chart the highwater marks and revisit some of our highlights, this is a list that shows the power of what happens when we channel that individual energy into a collective. From 2011 to 2014, we’ve managed amazing results for captive animals at Marineland: the largest anti captivity demonstrations (globally) over that span of time, the largest animal advocacy demonstrations in Canadian history over the last 30 years, and the largest animal advocacy demonstrations in North America over that span of time. Let this list inspire us all to push that much harder in 2015! Let’s get more creative, more strategic, and let’s keep pushing for a day when there are no more captive animals at Marineland!
To everyone who made it out to a demonstration, supported our work with donations, answered the call for legal support, and helped push our social media – THANK YOU! We could not do what we do, or even continue to exist in this current climate without mass support. We appreciate it all and hope that as we enter into a new campaign year you will be there again!
Anti SLAPP Bill 83 and the Shout Out in the Legislature
Marineland Animal Defense is now forever archived on the HANSARD record of the Ontario Legislature thanks to NDP MPP Paul Miller, “Marineland Animal Defense is currently facing a $1.5 Million SLAPP suit launched when they decided to shine a light on Marineland’s operations. In 2012, the Toronto Star broke a story that Marineland was burying animals on-site in mass graves without permits. A $1.5 million claim was filed against Dylan Powell and Marineland Animal Defense, thus changing the media focus from mass animal graves to a mass lawsuit.” Paul’s statements in the Legislature on February 18th of this year went a long way to getting out word about Marineland’s legal strategies and will always be something we rely on in the courtroom. Throughout the entire year we advocated for the passing of Anti SLAPP legislation, joining with over a hundred other organizations across Canada in that call. At time of writing, the Provincial Liberals have re introduced Anti SLAPP legislation, however also gutted it of retro active protection meaning it would no longer cover suits already filed by Marineland. Although this a story about corporate influence and lobbying, we are still heartened by the support we have received inside and outside the legislature and still hopeful that if passed, even in this form, there will finally be a legal deterrent to Marineland’s SLAPP suits.
From Niagara to Vancouver: Shut it Down!
Invited to the Animal Advocacy Camp in Vancouver this year we were able to bring the message of the Marineland Animal Defense campaign to the West Coast! Speaking to packed house of advocates we talked about the history of our campaign, how we organize, and shared ideas on how campaigns against the Vancouver Aquarium and Marineland Canada can join together and be strengthened. This was a big year for resistance to the Vancouver Aquarium and we were happy to witness it, and happy to know that the future of a coast to coast to coast anti-captivity movement in Canada is bright. Talks and events also happened in Portland and on Vancouver Island as we used every opportunity to spread the word and strategize with like minded activists.
*We also got to protest out front of the Vancouver Aquarium – which felt REALLLLLYYY good!
2nd Annual Global Awareness Week
For our 2nd Annual Global Awareness Week you showed up in a big way! People got more creative and took selfies to the next level as we got entries from all over – Australia, Costa Rica, UK, Korea, the Northwest Territories and more. Race car and activist extraordinaire Leilani Munter also joined in the fun from Charlotte, North Carolina. You can always view all of the Global Awareness Week photos in our flickr album. We are never that far away from this event, so start thinking about your submission in 2015!
The Marineland Mom of the Year!
Jennifer Jamieson got headline news coverage this year for opposing and reversing a potential school visit to Marineland. Parents sticking up for captive animals and demanding a better education for their children is so important, and Jennifer took it to the next level publicly defending her position and encouraging others to follow her example – even encouraging others to use our “School Trips” as a reference. Jennifer also spoke to open our “March on Marineland” this year, and relays that her children are excited to lead the upcoming Children’s March on Marineland this May 2015!
The First Ever “March on Marineland”
The highlight of the year, the first ever march through the Niagara Falls tourist district to Marineland. So much of all of our efforts from previous years built up to this moment as we marched on a 400 series HWY, passed the Rainbow Bridge, through Clifton Hill, by the Falls and onto Marineland. Chants rang out all throughout the downtown, tourists were instantly curious, and supporters of Marineland stood silent with their jaws dropped. The day was electric as 500 people joined together to enter a new era in the opposition to Marineland. For those who missed it, make sure to not miss out this year.
Empty the Tanks 2015!
The week immediately after the March on Marineland we were still reeling from all of the work that had went into that event. Still, you came out and we managed a second straight year with a great “Empty the Tanks” demonstration – joining in with dozens of other demonstrations happening at captive animal facilities throughout the globe.
We Beat Marineland in Court. Yes, You Read that Correctly
In 2015 Marineland Canada dragged us back to court for a second injunction hearing. This time they were attempting to add onto their previous injunction from August 2013 with vague language that would restrict all chanting or appeals to customers as they entered the facility. We held strong, you came forward with legal support, and in the end Marineland’s lawyers were forced to (red faced) abandon their motion. It was glorious.
We have always seen turnarounds at demonstrations, but this year saw more of them and a lot more of them actually joining our protests! The highlight was Lupita who stepped off of her tourist bus, walked over to the demonstration, and tried to find the right words in English to ask if she could join with us instead! It was a pretty powerful moment this year and folks like Lupita are a great reminder of what is possible when we step outside of our comfort zone.
Closing Day 2014
Speaking of epic turnarounds, our closing day demonstration started with a full limo of people seeing our demonstration and deciding that Marineland just wasn’t for them. The day built up as close to 300 advocates came out to spread the message and mark the end to another season.
This year saw massive spikes to our social media and website stats as everyone came together to help spread important news. We launched this site early with the news of the death of beluga “Beyli.” That got shared over 2,000 on facebook alone. News that Joel Zimmerman (Deadmau5) had ripped into Marineland spread like wildfire. All of these stories preceded news coverage and your help in getting the word out showed those outlets that there are people interested who want to read this information. Our top weekly reach on our main facebook page this year was 550,000+ people and our most shares over 1,000. We continue to grow, continue to build on our platforms, and will continue to leverage social media and our web presence to ensure that Marineland stays in the news.
Calling in the Ombudsman
Surrounding a Municipal Election and with two land leases up for renewal in 2015, we filed a complaint with the Ontario Ombudsman in regards to the closed door meetings where these land leases were discussed. The City of Niagara Falls refuses to give us minutes of those meetings or let us know who was in attendance. We hope that in 2015 this changes and this complaint pushes Niagara Falls City Council to discuss these matters in public like they are supposed to!