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Activist Profile: Ali Pester

Ali Pester at York U

August 28, 2013

Continuing our series of activist profiles, we meet the Leafleting Queen of the North, Ali Pester. Ali is the most prolific Canadian leafleter of all time, having reached more than 44,000 individuals with a Vegan Outreach booklet!

Where do you live now?

I am from Calgary, Alberta, Canada’s beef country, and I now live in Ottawa, Ontario, our capital city. I came out here to start my undergraduate degree three years ago and I am still working on that for now.

What are your favorite things to do outside of leafleting?

I spend most of my time doing school work, but I try to spend time with friends, exploring our city, and going out to art and music shows. I also spend a lot of my time playing banjo and guitar on my own.

Who has been / is a major influence in your life and why?

Most of the most influential people in my life are animal activists who I have met since getting involved. Mainly, I’d say John Oberg, Victor Sjodin, and David Coman-Hidy have been the biggest influences. Vic first got me into leafleting, and I’ve spent much of my time touring and leafleting with the three of them around Canada and the US. All three of these guys are amazing mentors – they truly care about making activists feel comfortable and recognize the potential in every activist, making leafleting and other forms of activism much more accessible and enjoyable. On top of that, they are all incredible at what they do. It has been very inspiring to get to know them over the last couple of years.

How long have you been involved in animal rights and how did you get interested?

I went vegan after I watched Earthlings three years ago. Just a month or so later I saw PETA activists on my campus. Before I knew it, I was attending protests almost every weekend. Meeting them was pure happenstance, and from there I was connected with Vegan Outreach through the activist community.

What made you decide to start leafleting? / Why do you leaflet?

When I met Vic, he was traveling through Ontario on his VO tour. We got together on my campus to leaflet and he gave me many tips, made me feel really comfortable leafleting, and encouraged me to meet up with the Warped Tour leafleters when they came through Canada that summer. After I leafleted with the activists on tour in Montreal and Toronto, I was determined to leaflet as much as I could.

I leaflet because it’s one part of activism that anyone can do. I was very shy about it in the past, but after learning how easy and rewarding it is, I recognize that it has the potential to reach so many people, often in just a small amount of time. Protesting can take a lot of time to organize and that can be really difficult as a full-time student. Leafleting just requires a bit of my day – maybe just a class break in a busy hallway. It’s also incredibly effective. After speaking to so many people who didn’t know what was happening on factory farms, countless people have thanked me for the information, asked me questions about how they can make a change, and have even come out to help me leaflet at another event. Vegan Outreach makes leafleting so easy – supplying me with booklets and always making me feel appreciated for the work that I’ve done.

What was your most positive leafleting experience?

Will at Berklee

The only downfall of leafleting, I find, is that you often don’t get to see the results immediately. Especially at Warped Tour events when we are handing out so many booklets so quickly that we often don’t get to talk to many individuals. However, it is always rewarding when we do get feedback. A few highlights off the top of my head are when David and I met a student at Berklee College of Music [Will, left] who had received a booklet in the past and it made him go veg. There was also a girl I leafleted at Warped Tour this year who turned to her friends and said, “This is why I’m vegetarian.” Possibly my favorite moment, however, was when I was sitting on the bus on my way home from campus late at night and a guy around my age started talking to me. He said he recognized me and had received a booklet from me more than once. He thanked me for my “very informative” work on campus, and told me that he is in the process of going vegetarian due to my outreach.

What would you say to individuals hesitant about leafleting?

I was pretty shy about leafleting when I started and at the beginning of most outreach events, it takes me a couple of minutes to really get in the groove of it. However, it becomes really easy with experience and although there are some hostile responses, I find that the positive reactions always make up for it.