Amy Soranno (centre) was arrested along with six others after they protesting against Ribfest in downtown Kelowna. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)

Kelowna animal rights activist speaks out amid charges in 2019 Abbotsford hog-farm protest

Amy Soranno, along with three other activists, will appear in court on Sept. 3

Kelowna animal rights activist Amy Soranno, along with three others, are facing charges linked to their 2019 protest at an Abbotsford hog farm.

Soranno said she was originally scheduled to appear in court this August, but the hearing was postponed after further investigation was needed. Now, Soranno along with the three other activists, Nick Schafer, Roy Sasano, and Jeff Rigear are scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 3.

The four are facing charges of break-and-enter and mischief, with a total of 21 counts between them. Some of the charges are related to the “Meat the Victims” protest they staged at Excelsior Hog Farm in Abbotsford, where more than 60 activists rushed into the hog farm, “sitting on solidarity” with pigs. The other charges are related to different protests.

Soranno said taking direct action, even if it means prosecution, is all worth it.

“My fears and discomfort, around witnessing another’s suffering or engaging in civil disobedience, is nothing compared to what those pigs (at hog farms) experience,” she said.

“No legal repercussions could ever compare to what farmed animals endure during their short existence. As an advocate for animals, I feel it is my job to ensure that powerful people in courts hear the argument that animals must be considered and their lives need to be taken seriously.”

She said when policies regarding animals allow for active exploitation and ordinary campaigning fails, civil disobedience is the only moral choice.

“Charging activists after exposing criminal animal cruelty just further proves the intense lack of transparency within the industry,” she said.

The farm came under fire after video footage was released back in April 2019, showing corpses of dead piglets among live animals which “raised alarm bells” with BC SPCA.

At the time, BC Pork Producers Association said in a press release the footage shows some “areas of concerns” and will prompt a veterinarian to visit the farm, he also says it was obtained illegally and lacks important context.

Marcie Moriarty, the SPCA’s chief prevention and enforcement officer said there would be an investigation to determine if any laws have been broken. However, the BC SPCA decided not to recommend charges against an Abbotsford hog farm, due to insufficient evidence.

READ MORE: BC SPCA says no charges against Abbotsford hog farm

The farm’s veterinarian, Josh Waddington, said during the 2019 protest that he believed some of the video footage was recorded in a special-care section of the farm where animals under observation and treatment for medical conditions.

In Kelowna, Soranno, along with other animal rights activists, chained themselves together in front of Interior Savings Credit Union in November, protesting the bank’s support of the annual Ribfest Kelowna.

Proceeds from Ribfest are donated to various community organizations including JoeAnna’s House and Pathways Abilities, among others. In a previous interview with Capital News, Soranno said she disagreed with the way the funds were raised.

“It’s very interesting because the charity that they are donating to, JoeAnna’s house, helps people who are suffering at Kelowna General Hospital, but the way that they’re donating that money is through selling class one carcinogens to people which causes cancers and disease in people who could end up in JoeAnna’s House,” she said, referring to a World Health Organization report that found processed meats cause cancer.

READ MORE: RCMP cut free activists chained to Kelowna bank, placed under arrest

Soranno said she and the others are looking forward to the court proceedings.

“This trial is actually about putting the pork industry on display, showcasing the rampant legal and illegal animal abuse, the lack of transparency and accountability and how the system to protect animals is failing them in the worst possible way.”

Even as she waits to appear in court, Soranno is still fully committed to changing the way farm animals are treated, encouraging others to sign petitions to help the fight.

The group has also launched a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for their legal proceedings.

READ MORE: Animal rights activist defends Monday’s Ribfest protest

– with files from Ben Lypka and Tyler Olsen


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
Follow me on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mission poker player missing in Nevada is found alive and safe

Brad Booth went missing in July 13, found in mid September

Last day of summer should be pleasant across the Fraser Valley

With fresh air, some sunshine in the forecast nothing to complain about as fall arrives tomorrow

Abbotsford parents upset as district gets cohort exemption to maximize class sizes at elementary school

Classes and cohorts shuffled after division eliminated at King Traditional elementary school

Young Abbotsford cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

Abbotsford’s Chase Claypool catches first NFL touchdown pass

Abby Senior grad established new record for longest scrimmage TD by a Canadian

Quirky Canadian comedy ‘Schitt’s Creek’ takes Emmys by storm with comedy sweep

Toronto-raised Daniel Levy and Ottawa-born Annie Murphy both got supporting actor nods

B.C. has highest number of active COVID-19 cases per capita, federal data shows

B.C. currently has 1,803 active cases after weeks of COVID-19 spikes in the province

B.C. unveils new cannabis sales programs to help small, Indigenous growers

Government did not say how it will define small producers, but says nurseries will be included in the policy

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

VIDEO: Shots fired outside Langley gas station that was scene of 2018 homicide

No reports of injuries in Saturday evening incident

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Most Read