Tag Archives: Bearing Witness

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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This is the World We’re Living In

This morning in Burlington, a city located about an hour’s drive west of Toronto, a truck overturned on a side road.  The truck was headed to Fearmans Pork plant, a slaughterhouse that “processes” around 10,000 pigs per day.  The driver suffered minor injuries and as of this posting, police are still investigating what exactly caused the crash.

The truck was carrying approximately 180 pigs and 40 were confirmed to have died as a result of the crash.  The over 100 pigs that survived were either euthanized on the spot or, if they were “lucky” enough to still be able to walk after having already endured being in a steel trailer that flipped with them inside of it, were – unbelievably – walked the remaining distance to their deaths. Since their ultimate destination was Fearmans anyway, the company decided it wouldn’t be worth changing trucks for and instead had its employees herd the bloodied, injured and scared pigs to an even greater terror. Continue reading

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There Is Nothing Wrong With An Emotional Response

I don’t hate the word “emotional” but I’m careful how I use it.  The reason is because it’s a word usually associated with weakness, hysteria, and is often assigned to females, implying some out-of-control aspect of their response to a situation.  What I’ve also noticed is that the word is sometimes used interchangeably to describe an overreaction even though having an emotional response and overreacting are not the same things.  Related, yes, but not the same things.  When people learn to restrain or control their emotions, it’s not that they’ve learned not to feel anything but rather they’ve learned to control how they display their responses to particular feelings.  This can be a good thing if you’re hot-tempered (like I am) but unhealthy if it means suppressing something that is fundamentally wrong, such as people who work in slaughterhouses and have to basically die a little themselves in order to carry out a very traumatic job day after day.   I suppose what I’m saying is that the term “emotional” is one I would use more were it not for some of the stereotypes that accompany it, including how it relates to one’s reaction to animal suffering. Continue reading

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