• Becci Pigeon

Weekend of activism for Regan Russell

Updated: Jan 20

Last weekend was devoted to Regan Russell, the 65 year old Canadian activist who was killed on 19 June 2020. Regan had been participating in a Toronto Pig Save vigil, providing water to pigs on their way to the slaughterhouse, when she was hit and killed by one of the transport trucks. Though Regan had been attending the weekly vigils for some time, this one in particular was devoted to the opposition of Ontario's ag gag Bill 156, which had passed two days earlier and which greatly restricts the ability to report not just animal cruelty on farms, but workplace safety violations and filthy conditions that threaten public health.

Regan had been involved in the animal rights movement since 1979, and was also a devoted activist for other social justice causes, including women's rights, Black Lives Matter, indigenous rights and LGBTQ rights. Her death was a great loss not only to her partner, family and friends but to justice movements around the world.

For our first event, VKind members participated in a vigil organised by Cookstown Pig Save in Regan's name with other local activists on Friday. We headed out to the Karro slaughterhouse in Cookstown, which kills 12,000 pigs a week via gas chamber, an incredibly cruel method of slaughter (also known as 'CO2 stunning') which sees pigs herded into metal cages and lowered into a cell filled with CO2. As the gas enters their lungs, pigs scream and thrash for up to a minute while the CO2 burns them from the inside out. After they have lost consciousness, their throats are cut--but sometimes they wake up first. The first video of CO2 stunning, taken in Australia in 2014, went viral. 69 animal organisations, including the RSPCA and Compassion in World Farming have come out in opposition to the method, as has the government's own expert advisory body, the Farm Animal Welfare Council, who in 2003 recommended that it be banned within five years. (Obviously this hasn't happened; in fact, the number of pigs killed via CO2 has gone up.)

Check out some photos below (click to enlarge):

The next day we took part in the global Run for Regan event organised by Toronto Pig Save, walking more than 16 kilometres! We stopped for a short break and some chalktivism after the first eight, and then headed back the way we came. Check us out in action here!

(Photo credits: Sean Allen, Rambles with My Camera)

Rest in Power, Regan.

We hope you'll join us next time! Keep an eye on our Facebook page for upcoming events!

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