Joaquin Phoenix attends vigil to honour fallen animal activist Regan Russell | Totally Vegan Buzz
Joaquin Phoenix attends vigil to honour fallen animal activist Regan Russell
Image: @joaquinlphoenix / Instagram

‘We will never go away and we will never back down’

Multiple award-winning actor Joaquin Phoenix attended a vigil to pay tribute to late animal advocate Regan Russell, who was run over on June 19 by a transport truck carrying pigs to slaughter at Fearmans Pork in Burlington, Ontario, Canada.

The vigil was held on Thursday and more than 100 people attended the event at the Smithfield-owned Farmer John slaughterhouse in Vernon, California.

Phoenix was photographed holding a sign that read “#SavePigs4Regan,”

He said in a 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 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.”

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"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 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. My heart goes out to the Toronto Animal Save community and to Regan’s lifelong partner, Mark Powell.” #JoaquinPhoenix #SavePigs4Regan

A post shared by Joaquin Phoenix (@joaquinlphoenix) on

The 65-year-old activist was not only an active member of  Toronto Pig Save, which organized vigils to quench thirsty pigs as they headed for slaughter, but was also a longtime activist for racial justice, gender equality, and other human rights issues.

In addition, Russell was also working to prevent the passage of the new ag-gag legislation Bill 156 in Ontario- the law which criminalizes whistleblowers and prevents them from exposing illegal and cruel practices on farms.

“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,” Phoenix added.

“My heart goes out to the Toronto Animal Save community and to Regan’s lifelong partner, Mark Powell.”

Continue legacy

Post the tragedy, Mark Powell- Russell’s husband is continuing Russell’s legacy.

“She died fighting for what she believed in,” he said.

“Whatever it cost, she would pay. Sometimes it’s money. Sometimes, it’s this.”

Speaking to CBC he said he would continue to seek justice for his wife and fight Bill 156 for “the rest of my life.”

“My life ended on Friday [June 19], so for as long as I’m left here, we have to pick up the torch and we have to fight things like Bill 156,” he added.

Fight for rights

In a statement to Toronto pig save to repeal Bill 156 he said: “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.”

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Regan’s husband Mark joined us for our memorial vigil for Regan on Sunday. ⠀ ⠀ Regan was at Fearmans protesting Ontario’s ag-gag Bill 156 and Mark gave this statement calling for its repeal. ⠀ ‘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.’ ⠀ ⠀ #govegan4regan⠀ #justice4regan⠀ #vigil4regan⠀ #savepigs4regan ⠀

A post shared by Toronto Pig Save 🐷 (@torontopigsave) on

While no arrests have been made in connection to Russell’s death, a spokesperson for the Halton Regional Police Service told CBC that investigations into her death are ongoing.

Share this story to commemorate the death of animal activist Regan Russell.

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