Tag Archives: Slaughterhouse

Making Animals Visible Again

I’ve been out of a job for nearly three weeks now and the upside of that is it’s allowed me the chance to do more activism.  I had a job interview on Monday and though I’m still actively looking for work, I’ve welcomed this time to get out there and do some of the things I couldn’t do when I was working full-time. One of those things was attending slaughterhouse vigils with Toronto Pig Save, an animal rights group here in Toronto.

I don’t want to assume everyone knows what vigils are so here it is: vigils consist of standing outside slaughterhouses, on public property, and watching the animals marked for slaughter come in on trucks. The purpose is to document what is happening to them with photos and videos, and to also raise awareness by holding informative signs visible to the public driving or walking by. Inspired by the writings of Leo Tolstoy, “bearing witness” to the suffering of another living being is a powerful act: it is upsetting, yes, but when you see it with your own eyes, and happening in your own city, it does push you to do more. The pain you feel from seeing suffering up close also becomes the force that drives you to keep going. A double-edged sword, to be sure, but one I feel honoured to carry. Continue reading

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“What Difference Does It Make?”

The title of this blog is in quotes because those are the words that someone yelled at us last week at a vigil in front of Maple Leaf Foods, a chicken slaughterhouse here in Toronto. Actually, his precise words were, What FUCKING difference does it make? but I decided to edit that part out since it doesn’t make for as strong a title. The man who yelled at us was an employee and it was after two truckloads of chickens – about 7,000 birds per truck – had been driven onto the property and were being held in an area prior to slaughter.

This is only the second vigil with Toronto Pig Save that I’ve been to.  The first was in 2015 when I joined in one held at Maple Leaf Foods, St. Helen’s Meat Packers and Ryding Regency Meat Packers, all three which are located very close-by to one another (both St. Helen’s and Ryding slaughter cows, calves and lambs, Maple Leaf slaughters birds).  Although nothing can ever prepare you completely, I was more mentally ready this past week and had at least some idea of what I was going to see.  And smell.  Even just standing outside of a slaughterhouse on a chilly night in November, the smell of blood and feces and raw flesh hangs in the air. It’s an unmistakable stench and all the Styrofoam, refrigeration and plastic wrap in the world could never make me forget it.  Continue reading

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What Makes a Murderer?

Back in January of this year, Julian and I went to see a screening of the documentary, Cowspiracy.  The screening was held primarily to raise money for a group called, “The Slaughterhouse 7”, a group of activists who were arrested on November 6, 2014 after holding a protest at St. Helen’s Meat Packers here in Toronto where 600 cows are slaughtered every day.  Six of the group had the charges dropped; one person’s is still pending.

I have tremendous respect for activists and I absolutely believe in and support the action of non-violent confrontation and civil disobedience because the status quo would never change if no one ever challenged it. I also admire anyone willing to be arrested for their beliefs, so long as their actions remain non-violent.  That said, there was something they showed at the screening that night that made me think. I also didn’t agree with it and I’m still working out as to why but I hope to draw the beginning of some conclusion by the end of this post. Continue reading

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Frances Moore Lappé, author of many books but perhaps most famous for her book, Diet for a Small Planet, describes how she felt when first learning about U.S. agriculture in late 1969: “Like the little boy in the fairy tale who cries out, ‘The emperor has no clothes!’” After realizing that, “over half the harvested acreage goes to feed livestock and only a tiny fraction of it gets returned to us in meat on our plate,” she, “could barely believe what I was learning, because it flew so totally in the face of conventional wisdom.”   Continue reading

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Bearing Witness

My husband, Julian, and I just returned from two weeks vacation in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  We spent the time with family catching up, going on a few outings, sharing great meals and noodling around the city.

One day my dad suggested we go up to Grand Forks, North Dakota, which is only about two and a half hours away from where he lives.  I hadn’t been to the United States in years and it had been awhile since I’d gone across the border in a car. The drive to and through North Dakota was much the same as the drive from Ontario to Manitoba: long, flat, straight and, well, kinda boring after a few hours. But it was a road trip and a great way for us to spend the day together. Continue reading

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