"Too early" is rarely an excuse not to protest, and that seems to be the case for groups heading downtown this morning. Chick-fil-A Toronto protests marked the opening of the chain's first Canadian location on Friday. The protest was characterized by loud dissent, chanting, and vocal opposition for the chain. Narcity reached out to Chick-fil-A to get their response to the ongoing protest.
The 519, an organization dedicated to advocating for the inclusion of LGBTQ2S communities, has joined forces with animal rights group Liberation T.O.
Representing the animal rights movement and some of the LGBTQ+ community, the two groups are fighting against the opening of the Chick-Fil-A joint due to controversy surrounding its record on issues on things such as LGBTQ2S rights.
Chick-fil-A seemingly tried to get a jump on the protests by opening 15 minutes earlier than its planned 10:30 a.m. opening. However, almost as soon as the doors opened, the protests started, with people chanting "shame" and "homophobes off our streets."
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The protest has begun. https://t.co/w7alxSMane— NEWSTALK1010 (@NEWSTALK1010) 1567779710
Despite the goal of being peaceful, things are clearly getting heated. It’s “chicken sandwiches!”… https://t.co/DjSmGFVsIO— Lucas Meyer (@Lucas Meyer) 1567781157
When asked for comment on the protests before Friday, Wilson Yang, Operator of the Chick-fil-A Yonge and Bloor location, told Narcity: "We want all Torontonians to know they are welcome at Chick-fil-A Yonge & Bloor.
"We respect people’s right to share their opinions. Our focus is on offering a welcoming and respectful environment for our guests and team members and we encourage people to give us a try."
Chick-fil-A also has an official page in which it explains in more detail where its charitable contributions go. Before going on to break down the chain's donations, the page states that the criticism "mischaracterizes the mission of the Foundation."
There was even a small counter-protest present, showing that it wasn't all anti-Chick-fil-A sentiment on Friday morning.*
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However, supporters of the 519 continued to make their voices heard.
"We need to stand up for people who are marginalized," said Chad Skinner. "We need to make smarter decisions that reflect who we are as a country. We shouldn’t be supporting organizations who are then using those funds to undermine people's rights."
Another advocate, Jennifer Soutar, added: "We just don't think that a company like Chick-fil-A has a place in Toronto, that's such an inclusive place to live." Souttar also noted the proximity of the location to the LGBTQ2S-heavy Church and Wellesley area.
"My hope is that our voices get heard, that maybe people will think twice about expanding this franchise into the rest of the country and the rest of Toronto?"
Although protests have only been announced for day one of the restaurant's opening, there's no confirmation yet as to whether or not the groups will continue to protest until Chick-fil-A responds.
*This article has been updated.