It wasn’t a typical protest that saw more than two dozen animal welfare advocates gather in somber silence in front of Langley’s Britco Pork plant at the 22900-block of Fraser Highway on June 24.
It was a candlelight vigil that saw flowers laid upon concrete and signs demanding legislative change after an Ontario animal activist was killed last month mid-protest.
The demonstration was organized by Langley Pig Save, part of the Canada Save Movement that aims to bear witness to animals as they arrive for slaughter, by picketing transport trucks outside of plants.
On June 19, Regan Russell, 65, was struck by a transport truck in Burlington while offering pigs-in-transit a cool drink of water outside Fearman’s Pork plant.
A spokesperson for Sofina Foods, owner of Fearman’s Pork, said the company is fully cooperating with a police investigation into the death.
“It is so incredibly painful and equally as beautiful to see how death can bring this community together,” said a Langley Pig Save spokesperson.
Carrie Shogan, founder of Aldergrove’s Little Oink Bank Pig Sanctuary, spoke to the group, bringing attention to the fact that Russell had been interacting with pigs before they were trucked off into the slaughterhouse.
“Activists ask drivers to stop for two minutes so they might witness the animals and provide all-too-brief comfort,” explained Shogun about her advocacy.
In Langley, Shogan said that trucks transporting pigs into Britco Pork do not stop for animal activists.
“They make a quick and efficient left turn… we know they see us… we watch the gate close behind them and later we watch the trucks bounce out – empty.”
“Regan Russell stood in a place like this one, she stood at Fearmans slaughterhouse, offering what comfort she could,” Shogan continued.
Russell died two days after Ontario passed Bill 156, Shogan added, which if made into law will make such demonstrations illegal.
It will prohibit trespassers at food-processing properties where farm animals are kept or from engaging in “unauthorized interactions” with them.
In Ontario, people will be required by law to obtain consent from the plant/farm owner before standing on their property.
If a person enters the site on false pretences, legislation details that consent is automatically revoked.
If found on the plant or farm property, people like protestors could incur fines of up to $25,000.
“It’s intended to hide rampant and industry-wide animal abuse and prevent animal activists, whistleblowers, media, and others from performing their vital role in exposing the horrific treatment of farmed animals,” Shogan declared.
“As Regan herself said: ‘People say we’re breaking the law by storming? How do you think women got the right to vote? How do you think slavery was abolished? People stood up and broke laws’.”
Protestors in Langley are calling for the repeal of Bill 156, which Shogan says “violates Charter rights, and the rights of farmed animals.”
A few of their signs on June 24 read: “The meat industry killed Regan Russell,” and “Compassion is not a crime.”