joaquin phoenix toronto

Joaquin Phoenix attends vigil for animal rights activist killed at Ontario slaughterhouse

American actor and long-time animal rights advocate Joaquin Pheonix attended a vigil outside Sofina Foods' Fearmans slaughterhouse in Burlington today to pay tribute to Regan Russell, an activist who was killed by a pig transport truck while protesting at the facility this past summer.

The actor, who has been vegan for much of his life and was spotted at a popular plant-based restaurant in Toronto with his family earlier this week, stood alongside Russell's husband Mark Powell and step son Joshua Powell at the vigil, which was hosted by Toronto Pig Save.

"We were stricken by his humble, courteous nature and really appreciated the moments we had to talk with him and share stories about Regan," said Russell's step son of Phoenix, according to a news release from Toronto Pig Save.

Throughout the vigil, Phoenix spoke with fellow animal rights activists and bore witness to the pigs crammed in the trucks while holding a sign with a photo of one of the animals that read "Fearman's Slaughterhouse showed no me mercy."

"I'm here to honour Regan Russell and all the animal activists who dedicate their lives to ending this injustice," he said.

It wasn't the first time Phoenix has spoken up about what happened to Russell, or about the Ontario government's handling of animal rights issues.

On June 27, the day Russell was killed, Phoenix issued the following statement: "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," he continued. 

"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."

Russell was protesting Bill 156, a law that states that activists, media and any other trespassers could receive fines of up to $25,000 for entering a farm property, when she was struck and killed by a truck transporting pigs outside the slaughterhouse.

The accident eventually resulted in a 28-year-old man from North Perth being charged with careless driving resulting in death.

Lead photo by

Toronto Pig Save


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