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

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

Children wait using physical distancing after getting their pictures taken at picture day at St. Barnabas Catholic School during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Tuesday, October 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Update: COVID-19 cases confirmed at more Kelowna schools

Interior Health announced a case has been confirmed at Chute Lake Elementary

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Former Kelowna social worker arrested for allegedly stealing from foster children

Robert Riley Saunders was arrested in Alberta and will be brought back to B.C. to face charges

Townhouse proposals by Westcorp to the City of Kelowna, up for consideration Monday, Dec. 7. (City of Kelowna/Westcorp)
Kelowna council to decide on Westcorp development permit for Hiawatha RV Park

City of Kelowna council will consider Monday whether to issue a development permit for the project

Two Kelowna flights have been flagged as having COVID-19 cases on board. (Black Press Media file photo)
COVID-19 cases on several Kelowna flights

The flights were on Nov. 19, 22, 24 and 27, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control

This microscope image made available by the National Cancer Institute Center for Cancer Research in 2015 shows human colon cancer cells with the nuclei stained red. On Friday, May 29, 2020, doctors are reporting success with newer drugs that control certain types of cancer better, reduce the risk it will come back and make treatment simpler and easier to bear. (NCI Center for Cancer Research via AP)
Vernon families give $200,000 towards cancer care in Kelowna

First ever chair in brachytherapy supported by Popowich and Bannister families

Pickleball game in Vancouver on Sunday, November 8, 2020. B.C.’s public health restrictions for COVID-19 have been extended to adult team sports, indoors and outside. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
711 more COVID-19 cases detected in B.C. Friday

‘Virus is not letting up and neither can we’

It was an opening day filled with blue skies, sun and COVID-19 protocols at Vernon’s SilverStar Mountain Resort Friday, Dec. 4, 2020. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
VIDEO: Passholders enjoy sunny opening day at Silver Star Mountain

Resort staff say parking reservations, COVID-19 protocols went smoothly Friday, Dec. 4

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Victoria-based driving instructors are concerned for their own and the community’s safety with the continued number of residents from COVID hotspots in the Lower Mainland coming to the city to take their driving road tests. (Black Press Media file photo)
Students from COVID hotspots travel to Vancouver Island for driving tests

Union leader calls on government to institute stronger travel ban

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Two arrested after attack at Vernon home

Police spotted around 43rd Avenue linked to Wednesday assault

Most Read