Animal Rights Activist Profile: Mat Winton
What inspired you to first get involved with activism and to join DxE?
I first became interested in activism when I was living far up north in remote Yellowknife. Shortly after making the switch to veganism, I found myself watching as many documentaries and YouTube videos as possible trying to learn more about veganism and everything that happens behind the scenes with animal agriculture. After watching hours and hours of videos, I stumbled upon DxE's videos of stunning demonstrations and astounding speak outs during disruptions; I knew at that moment that I had to be part of it. I had ended up seeing a lot of the actions done in Toronto by DxE and took it upon myself to connect with some of the activists via social media and worked towards getting to know them and getting a feel for Toronto's Animal Rights activism scene. I met a lot of the activists before ever stepping foot in Toronto and was blown away by all the things they were doing for the animals and I was beyond inspired. I came to the conclusion then; Toronto was the place to be for activism in Canada and I was going to go there and join the good fight. Shortly after, I packed up my stuff and purchased a one-way ticket and arrived in Toronto the day before the March to Close All Slaughterhouses, giving me the chance to finally meet all the amazing activists I looked up to in Toronto. After having the opportunity to meet the amazing DxE Toronto Organizers and Steering Committee Members in June and participating in some talks, training sessions and actions with them, which included my first Whole Foods disruption. I knew then that DxE was doing what was necessary for animal liberation and was always going to be a part of my life.
What is your favorite or most accomplished moment in activism or other DxE activity?
I would have to say my most accomplished moment in activism was the moment we stepped into Baton Rouge Steakhouse for the #FlowersForAnimals disruption; the first event I ever organized myself. After taking a lot of time hesitating and trying to work past my anxiety, I had reached out to a Toronto Organizer and pitched him my plan and asked him for advice and pointers. He was incredibly supportive, reassuring and really made me feel like I had the ability to take on the challenge. The disruption went very well despite me completely cracking under pressure and forgetting the speech I had prepared. Nothing can compare to the feeling of seeing all of the activists so overjoyed, empowered and itching to be even more involved after an event you worked hard to create. My other favorite moment of course is when I was asked to join the DxE Toronto Organizer team. I was incredibly honored and it is definitely one of the highlights of my life.
How do you stay motivated as an activist?
Community. When you are apart of such a huge and wonderful community full of activists all fighting for the same goal, it's really easy to stay motivated. For me, making animal rights and animal liberation a huge part of my life has made it very easy for me to always stay active and always be motivated. The Animal Rights community here in Toronto are my true friends, my family and they are my life. They have always been there when I have been discouraged, they are always there to greet me with a smile and a hug, they are there to encourage me to push myself, they are always there to defend me when I'm in a tough situation and they are always there to remind me what I'm fighting for.
What advice would you give to new activists?
My advice for new activists would be: Just keep pushing yourself. Make goals for yourself, accomplish them and then move on to the next goal. Social anxiety used to be a huge problem for me and always prevented me from speaking up, being vocal and being active in what I believed in. By continually pushing myself with activism and DxE actions, I was able to work past my anxiety and do things I had never thought I would have been able to do. My second piece of advice is: Surround yourself with like-minded people. It's really easy to become discouraged when you keep negative people around that are trying to talk you out of activism or are always being negative towards what you think and what you do. Push the negativity out of your life and allow people in who truly love you, want to work towards the same goals as you and share similar values and morals.
Why Animal Liberation?
Animal Liberation because it's what they deserve and it's what they are entitled to. Animals were not put on this planet for us to do to them as we see fit. Anyone that has spent time at a sanctuary, a vigil or even or in a place of violence against animals can attest that each and every animal feels just like we do, has unique personalities like we do, has likes and dislikes like we do and is much different from the next person, just like us. The least they deserve is to be free from harm and sorrow, have a chance at living the life they want to live, have families and of course, total liberation from human oppression.
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