Beloved Pig Save Activist Regan Russell Killed
Animal rights activist Regan Russell, 65, was struck and killed by a pig transport truck in front of Fearmans slaughterhouse on Friday, June 19, 2020. Regan was at a Toronto Pig Save vigil with 6 other activists giving pigs water on a scorching hot day. She regularly attended pig vigils and on this particular day Regan was there to oppose Ontario ag gag Bill 156, which had passed two days prior. Regan died trying to expose what Bill 156 will hide. Regan was born and raised in Hamilton and moved to Winnipeg where she became a model. She was an animal activist since 1979 and enjoyed spending time with the family's seven rescue cats. Her husband Mark calls for continued fight against animal abuse:
“In pursuing justice, we have this to say; it does not end with a senseless death or a major meat distributor. This is not just a fight for vegetarians, vegans, and animal rights activists. This is a fight for the sanctity of our rights as free citizens to demonstrate for what we believe in. We seek to repeal Bill 156 in its entirety, and let it be known we believe Regan’s blood is on the hands of those that supported this vile legislation.”
"Regan Russell spent the final moments of her life providing comfort to pigs who had never experienced the touch of a kind hand. While her tragic death has brought upon deep sorrow in the Animal Save [Movement] community, we will honor her memory by vigorously confronting the cruelties she fought so hard to prevent by marching with Black Lives, protecting Indigenous rights, fighting for LGBTQ equality, and living a compassionate vegan life. The Ontario government can attempt to silence us with the passage of its Ag-Gag bill -Bill 156 - but we will never go away and we will never back down."
Regan believed all life was “worth fighting for” say grieving friends and family. A long time social justice activist, she was arrested on 11 occasions for “various acts of civil disobedience”.
“People say we’re breaking the law ... How do you think women got the right (to vote)? How do you think slavery was abolished?” Russell asked rhetorically. “People stood up and broke the laws — because they’re stupid laws.”
On the day she was killed Regan was attending a special pig vigil to protest Ontario's ag gag Bill 156.
Her life partner of 19 years, Mark Powell understands why his “tall, beautiful, passionate” best friend was willing to risk the race to give water to “suffering” pigs inside the trucks, which pause briefly before driving into the slaughterhouse.
“She died fighting for what she believed in,” said Powell, fighting to keep his voice from trembling at his home. “Whatever it cost, she would pay ... Sometimes it’s money. Sometimes, it’s this.”
Regan was a fearless fighter and a peacemaker. She bore witness today to offer water to the pigs on a scorching hot day, offering them a final moment of peace - as she had done many times before in legal protest
“Regan was a kind, elegant, strong, and courageous person,” said Anita Krajnc, founder of the Animal Save Movement. “She was a mentor to others, and she always did activism with kindness in her heart.”
Regan had been an animal advocate since 1979, attended vigils weekly for years, and cared deeply about justice for animals, racial justice, and protecting the vulnerable.
Ten thousand pigs are slaughtered at the Fearmans Pork slaughterhouse every day. Toronto Pig Save activists have been holding regular vigils outside Fearmans since 2014 when Quality Meat Packers closed in downtown Toronto.
The tragic death comes two days after the controversial agricultural gag (“ag gag”) law, Bill 156, was passed in Ontario. Bill 156 is designed to cover up animal cruelty on farms and during transport.
We ask that Michael Latifi, CEO of Fearmans, agrees to release the pigs who were on the transport truck that killed the activist, to a sanctuary as a sign of compassion and respect.
Toronto Pig Save held a candlelight vigil and a memorial outside Fearmans slaughterhouse to honour her life. Just like we speak up against Fearmans for murdering innocent beings, we will not stand back as that industry of death shamelessly steals the life of a warrior. She died fighting against an industry that hides the truth, as shown by the passing of “Ag gag” legislation, Bill 156, just days ago.
Regan was a wife, a daughter, a best friend, and we will not let the candles go out.