Regan Russell, a member of Toronto Pig Save. (Peta screenshot)

Animal rights activist killed while protesting pigs en route to Ontario slaughterhouse

Dozens of activists gathered at the plant Friday to mourn Regan Russell, a member of Toronto Pig Save

A longtime animal rights activist was fatally struck by a truck on Friday while she was protesting outside a slaughterhouse west of Toronto, her friends said.

Regan Russell, a member of Toronto Pig Save, died after being hit by a transport truck full of pigs on its way to Fearman’s Pork, a processing plant in Burlington, Ont., said Anita Krajnc, the group’s co-founder.

“She was in front of the truck when it ran over her,” said Krajnc, who did not witness the incident but had heard from other activists who were there at the time.

The death of the 65-year-old activist comes just two days after the province passed controversial legislation that hiked fines for trespassing on farms and food-processing facilities and made it illegal to obstruct trucks carrying farm animals.

Dozens of activists gathered at the plant Friday to mourn their friend.

“She was a sophisticated, well-educated woman who was very strong and always determined to do the right thing,” Krajnc said.

Russell had often joined Toronto Pig Save as they gave water to pigs on transport trucks at the entrance of the plant, she said, and Friday was no different.

“She supported Black Lives Matter, Indigenous rights and she was an intersectional vegan who understood the importance of equality in terms of racial justice and in terms of animal equality,” Krajnc said.

A spokeswoman for Sofina Foods, owner of Fearman’s Pork, said the company is fully cooperating with a police investigation into the death.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the individual and her family. This is a tragedy and we extend our sincere condolences to them,” Daniele Dufour said in a statement.

“We also recognize the impact that this event had on our employees and have been providing support to them in these very difficult times.”

Camille Labchuk, the executive director of Animal Justice, said Russell was a lifelong animal advocate.

“This is so sad,” Labchuk said through tears. ”She was a beautiful human who didn’t deserve this.”

A large number of activists have shown up at the scene, where the group plans to hold an all-night vigil in honour of Russell and the pigs she loved, Krajnc said.

“We have asked management to get some of these pigs in the truck to a sanctuary in her name,” she said.

Halton police said they received a call around 10:20 a.m. about a pedestrian who had been struck by a transport truck. They said the woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

The group has long protested the slaughter of pigs at Fearman’s Pork and were there Friday to protest the recent passage of a law activists have dubbed the ”ag gag” bill.

Toronto Pig Save regularly holds “vigils” outside the facility, and on hot days activists will feed water to the pigs as they’re taken to slaughter.

Temperatures reached 30C Friday and much of southwestern Ontario was under a heat warning by Environment Canada.

“We have had many close calls here,” Krajnc said. “We have asked for trucks to stop for two minutes so we can bear witness, say goodbye to the pigs and give them water.”

The group drew international headlines in 2015 when Krajnc was arrested while giving water to the pigs on a hot day at the same spot.

She was later found not guilty of criminal mischief when the case went to trial.

Liam Casey and Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

animal welfare

Just Posted

So Vancouver Island, you want to defund your police?

Examining what a nearly $10 million RCMP contract gets the people of Campbell River

Opioid crisis and COVID-19 pressing issues for mid-Island’s new medical health officer

Dr. Mike Benusic has been working in his new role with Island Health since July 2

Textured mats at Saanich intersections guide pedestrians with visual impairments

Yellow ‘tactile tiles’ make crossing busy intersections safer, District says

Vancouver Island officials can ‘only educate and encourage’ people to social distance

Leaders plead for education, as municipality lacks authority to enforce social distancing in public

Throwback: Parksville Makerspace shows off old Commodore 64 computer

Open house takes place Aug. 8, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Missing teen visiting Courtenay found safe

She had last been seen going for a walk on Aug. 6

Need a doctor in Sooke? You may be in luck

In anticipation of recruiting more doctors, medical clinic accepting applications for a waitlist

Poles mark growing bond between BC Hydro, Campbell River First Nations

Totem poles placed on the John Hart dam site a symbol of a stronger relationship

COVID-19: Modified beach volleyball a hit in Parksville

Organizer happy to get popular summer game going

Nanaimo Fringe Festival productions adapt to new online format

10th annual festival to be live-streamed due to COVID-19

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

Most Read