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

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

Just Posted

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Skeena Resources, Tahltan prez excited by purchase of Eskay Creek

Skeena gets full control of mine, Barrick gets 12 per cent of Skeena and a one per cent royalty

VIA Rail lays off 1,000 unionized workers across the country

Northern B.C. route Jasper to Prince George to Prince Rupert is not affected by VIA Rail layoffs

Overall house sales drop in the northwest

COVID-19 pandemic slowed market activity

B.C. orders Coastal GasLink to stop pipeline construction near protected wetlands

The 670-kilometre pipeline is planned to transport natural gas from northeast B.C. to Kitimat

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

‘Trauma equals addiction’ – why some seek solace in illicit substances

Part 2: Many pushed into addiction by ‘toxic stress,’ says White Rock psychologist

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Most Read