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‘Leaving No One Behind’: UN Commission On The Rights Of Women underway

By Jessica Ashley Merkley

The current climate regarding women’s rights and gender equality is unprecedented. Ongoing efforts by those in support of closing the gaps between the sexes have ignited acknowledgement that the tides are turning and actionable change is happening. Against this same backdrop, the UN Commission on the Status of Women, is set to begin this week at the United Nations in New York. This particular forum is the largest involving gender equality and women’s rights.

Although the world has been gripped by the happenings in the United States, involving the #MeToo media campaign, as well as the #TimesUp campaign, the message has not been met with the same power in rural locales. This has therefore kept progress regarding the rights of women from happening.

Women Executive Director for the UN, Phumzile Milambo-Ngcuka spoke on this issue that seems common across rural areas around the globe, where women’s rights seem at a standstill.

“At the heart of leaving no one behind, is leaving no one out. One of the single most impactful contributions to achieving the 2030 Agenda would be to level inequalities for women and girls in rural areas. Significant progress for them is progress for the whole Agenda, and for the world.”

Women residing and working in rural areas have the power to bring change, due to their roles in food production and distribution. They are imperative to the security of the global food market. Such women can also be leaders in the transitioning of sustainable energy in the household, which leads to leadership in the management and conservation of natural resources, in addition to the regeneration of land and forests.

Reports indicate, however, that rural women are worse off than rural men or than women residing in an urban setting due to the remaining gender inequalities and discrimination that exists. Such studies, also brought forth at the forum, indicate that “rural women and girls are disproportionately affected by poverty and have unequal access to land and natural resources, infrastructure and services, and decent work and social protection. They are also more vulnerable to the adverse impact of environmental and climate change.”

The 62nd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, will focus on issues relevant to gender equality and empowerment of all rural women and girls.  Key topics will be that of infrastructure and technology, education and health- which involves their sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights- as well as bringing an end to all forms of violence and harm against women.

“Leaving no one behind” is the motto for this week’s forum. The time for change is now.

 

 

 

Charlottesville: can it happen here? Yes, it can.

It’s seven in the morning and I’m listening to the radio. The host comes on to talk about the news of the day, describing the violence in Charlottesville once again. I’m groggy, but even I can predict the next question that will be asked — can it happen in Canada? Every day this week I’ve heard the same question. Whether it is on the radio, the television, in the newspaper, or even within my circle of family and friends, people want to talk about how what happened in the United States may, or may not, happen in their communities.

On the evening of Aug 11, a group of white nationalists — a.k.a. Nazis — marched the streets of Charlottesville in a rally that supposedly was meant to “take America” back. These people started chanting things like “white lives matter” and “blood and soil”, among many offensive and discriminatory things.

Oh, and they were holding torches and some of them held flags with the swastika.

The march was meant to be a response to the removal of a confederate statue, but considering the symbols scrawled on the signs and the slogans being screamed in the streets, there is no doubt this was a meeting of white supremacists who didn’t care about a statue. They just wanted to express their views and show their numbers.

These Nazis* were met with a counter protest — and because these marchers were not there to peacefully showcase their displeasure about a historical figure being immortalized in stone, they lashed out violently. People were pushed and beaten. And then someone drove a van right into the crowd, killing one of the protesters.

* I was recently asked whether it was fair to call these “nationalists” Nazis, and my answer is unreservedly yes. Calling them “nationalists” waters down the message of their ideology. If you are chanting discriminatory things about transgendered people, people of colour, and those of the Jewish faith while holding torches and the swastika — you are a Nazi. Everyone who marches with you, by association, is a Nazi. It’s that simple.

So, can it happen here? That’s the big question, isn’t it? My answer is, sadly, yes — and that’s what’s so frightening.

Fear and violence inspires more fear and more violence. It can create a chain reaction of events on an international scale. When one group of people use violence as a way to deal with what they see as a threatening situation, another group will respond in kind, creating a cycle that is never ending.

And Canada is not immune. Sure, we have small victories. A forum for “nationalists” being held at Ryerson University was cancelled after public outcry, and the University of Toronto has publicly said they will not allow a group of white supremacists to protest on their property. But is it enough to combat the many instances of racism, sexism, and blatant hate this country has seen over the last few years?

During the last federal election, the signs of Muslim candidates were defaced with graffiti, with phrases like “Go Home” scrawled across their property. In January, people were shot while leaving a mosque in Quebec City. There have been numerous instances of neighbours sending letters threatening parents of children with disabilities because they were disturbed and felt these kids shouldn’t be alive. And there is, I’m ashamed to say, many alt-right people who were starting to listen to Kellie Leitch’s rant about RCMP tip lines for those worried about their immigrant neighbours, not to mention the disgusting concept of using “Canadian values” to determine who enters the country.

Hate breeds more hate — and unfortunately, there is still a lot of hate left in Canada. Can that hate turn to violence? Yes, quite easily. But, will it? Not if those of us who are tolerant and compassionate human beings rally together and say enough is enough. People can end the cycle, but only if they do not resort to the same methods as those who initiate the violence and hate.

As grossly cliché as it is, people have to fight hate with love. Already, two rallies are being organized in Toronto as a response to the violence in Charlottestown. If this is how the world responds, in similar fashion to the Women’s Marches in January and February, I have high hopes we will not see the rise of white supremacy or Nazism spread in this country.

God, I hope I’m right.

What are you wearing this Canada Day?

Tomorrow’s the big bash — Canada is turning 150 years old and the entire nation is getting ready to party until the wee hours of the morn’.

Unless you are preparing for a family camping trip or a girls weekend out, planning Canada Day events can turn into a last-minute affair. The event is considered a holiday, but in typical Canadian fashion, most people are too modest to make a big to-do out of it.

The unfortunate part is that by now, most of the “Canada 150 gear” is sold out or overly priced. That doesn’t mean you can’t get decked out in traditional Canadian fashion this July 1, it just may take a little bit of creativity. Women’s Post is here to help! Here are some ideas for a kick-ass Canada Day outfit:

Colours: Really, if you own anything red, you are fine. Pair a red t-shirt with a pair of white shorts and it will look like you planned for this holiday months ago! Add a red bandana or hat, or even some luscious red lipstick for extra effect. White shirts work as well, but try to find some sort of red accessory to balance it out. Why not try to get some face paint at the dollar store so you can pain on our favourite maple emblem on your cheek?

Plaid: It’s supposed to be rainy and cloudy all weekend (sigh) so why not just wear the traditional Canadian plaid shirt? It has the added benefit of being warm, but also contains our nation’s colours

Dollar store: Time to be a bit creative. Even the dollar store may be out of their traditional t-shirts and temporary tattoos, but they almost always have beaded necklaces, boas, tutus, and other weird things you can slap together to make an outfit. The key is to go overboard. If you are going with the mashed up outfit full of different textures and goofy headbands, then you might as well go all out!

Non-traditional: If you are like me and red just doesn’t match your skin tone, try a different approach. Canada Day is a great opportunity to celebrate Canadian things — sports teams, bands, and even our individual cities (‘Toronto vs. everybody’). Wear that Justin Trudeau unicorn shirt you bought on e-bay that one time! That blue jays cap is good for more than just keeping the sun out of your eyes at the game. Maybe you have a “drizzy drake” tee you can grab?

Just remember to stay away from indigenous or cultural garb that isn’t your own please! Those are the only things out of bounds this Canada Day.

Want to make a statement? Buy a cheap white t-shirt and write something on the back with a marker or with paint. With all those cameras, this is the perfect time to express concern over an issue that is important to you. Whether it’s the environment, election reform, or disdain for a particular bill being discussed in the house right now — use this opportunity to get your point across. Just avoid offensive language, as no camera will focus on your shirt if it contains profanity.

And of course, you can always use this statement to share messages of love!! Not everything has to be about activism.

 

What will you be wearing this Canada Day? Let us know in the comments below!

Sit down Kendall Jenner

A member of the Kardashian clan has made headlines this week. And while that’s not particularly shocking, the video was taken down shortly after. What’s shocking, we should say, is Pepsi and Jenner’s inability to scan a situation for signs of ignorance and joining the (right) conversation. Because although conversations definitely started from the advertisement, it was certainly not because of the great, refreshing taste of the carbonated drink. And while it’s cute that Jenner tried to use her celebrity status to do something ‘woke’ for once, it missed the mark so bad she might as well hit the snooze button, take a nap – and try again. Sorry, babe.

Let’s set the scene. The advertisement is rather long. But within under 3 minutes, Pepsi managed to portray the glamorous life of protests and activism, in addition to find a solution to end various social justice issues- with a can of pop. The ad, however, seems like it is hopping on the bandwagon of participating in social justice as a trend. It raises a few issues surrounding protests, police brutality, and consumerism as a tool to incite world peace. Something’s different about this protest though. People are smiling. Music is playing in the background. The atmosphere is that of a summer street festival. Scenes of dance battles and a big kumbaya take place. Jenner, a model, is quick to abruptly end her photoshoot and join the protest – because it looked kinda ‘lit’.

What Pepsi and Jenner need to understand is this: protests are an avenue used to express frustration in a system that operates and benefits from racist, patriarchal ideology to say the least. They are used to demonstrate anger, hurt, and hope. The Coachella vibes in the commercial, however, reduces the function of a protest. It seems the solution of unity can be brought forth by offering the police a drink. Because it seems like nothing quenches the thirst of bringing about world peace like a can of pop.

Police brutality is not a new issue in society. It has been an ongoing issue for decades, but has become a trending topic due to various social media campaigns and hashtags. Jenner approaching the police with a can of Pepsi as a gesture of camaraderie evokes a narrative that working in unity can produce change. But it’s not that easy. A quick Google search will lead to images of gas masks, riots, and flames – quite the opposite of the vibe Pepsi went for. Let’s not forget the black and people of colour’s lives that were taken by the criminal justice system. Names such as Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, and Michael Brown should come to mind. Not Kendall Jenner.

Image result for ieshia evans

Jenner’s walk to the line of officers resembles the image of the female protestor named Ieshia Evans standing proud confronting heavily armoured riot officers during a Black Lives Matter protest in response to Alton Sterling being shot by police last year. The recreation of this image has also made the rounds on social media, bringing forth the appropriation of the movement. This isn’t, however, the first time the family has been under the heat for appropriation. Often sporting corn-rolls and dating black men, the Jenner/Kardashian clan has always advocated for black culture- without speaking up for black rights.

Pepsi has since apologized to Kendall Jenner for involving her in their attempt to bring about world peace. We’re still waiting on Jenner to comment on the matter. After reading a script, making the decision to be a part of this ‘movement’, as well as knowing the full implications behind getting involved with Pepsi and their commercial, it’s not sure as to why an apology was in order. Rather, Kendall Jenner should sit down, do some research on what went wrong, and face the consequences of her actions, while issuing her own apology.

We’ll wait.

Thanks Trump! You just created a new age of activism.

The election of U.S. President Donald Trump has sparked anger, resentment, and hate — and people aren’t standing for it. In fact, they are doing even more. They are marching.

While 2017 is proving to be even worse than 2016, at least one good thing has sprung from it all. The continuous bigotry fuelled by American politics is bringing about a new age of activism.

As a millennial, I’ve never truly experienced the power of global activism. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve witnessed some powerful demonstrations over the last two decades. There was the Arab Spring, the lesser but effective Maple Spring and, of course, the Occupy movement. But, I’ve never seen so many people, from all walks of life — ethnicities, religious affiliations, and economic statuses — come together to condemn such a wide array of issues on a global scale.

On Feb. 4, over 5,000 people gathered in front of the United States Consulate in Toronto to protest the American immigration ban and Islamophobia. At the same time, thousands of people got together across Canada and overseas, all marching and chanting in unison: “No Muslim ban on stolen land.”

 

There were families with their children, students and seniors standing hand in hand, sharing samosas and taking photos of each other’s carefully crafted signs. When organizers asked the crowd to part so that the Muslim participants could be closer to the stage for a prayer, everyone did it. People smiled and opened their arms, leading their allies and fellow Canadians (or Canadian hopefuls) to the front, remaining silent while they prayed for those fallen in the Quebec mosque shootings a few weeks ago.

Above everything else, people were polite, inclusive, and tolerant — but also strong, powerful, and loud. It was truly something to witness.

Photo by Katherine DeClerq
Photo by Katherine DeClerq

In January, more than 60,000 people marched in Toronto  — along with millions in the United States and throughout Europe — for women’s rights and to protest the inauguration of Trump, a man who has repeatedly used sexist remarks in speeches and disregarded the rights of women on the political stage. The march may have been the biggest demonstration in U.S. history.

I know what you are thinking. These are people who are just marching because “it’s cool”, right? They won’t actually work to enact change.

Photo courtesy of Madeleine Laforest

But this new age of activism is not limited to marching. Within hours of an executive order signed by President Trump, there are over a dozen Facebook events created for smaller, more pointed demonstrations indicating their displeasure over his political actions. American citizens are calling their representatives at every level of government, telling them what they think of the cabinet confirmations or a political document that was released. When the telephone voice mailboxes are full, people start using the fax machines to reach their political offices. A few people even tried to send their representatives pizzas with notes attached to them.

For example, so many people called their Senators regarding the confirmation of Betsy DeVos, the candidate for Secretary of Education, that she almost wasn’t confirmed. Two Republications changed their votes and the Vice President had to be the tiebreaker, a first in American history.

People are fired up. Normal citizens who never would have considered becoming politically active are making signs and marching to Capitol Hill. They are listening and they are informed. For the first time in my lifetime, people actually care. And not just specific groups of people — all people.

The west has forgotten the true meaning and functionality of democracy. Politicians are supposed to fight for their constituents, not for their own self-interest. If their constituents say they want them to vote against their party, technically, they should do it. That is how representative democracy works. A politician must represent the views of their constituents.

This concept has been lost, fuelled by the complacency and ignorance of a population willing to let other people run their country. But, with the rise of this new age of activism, that can change.

The Republicans (under the leadership of Trump) are forcing citizens to reconsider their own beliefs and be more aware of what they want of their country. Without meaning too, they are inspiring real democracy, a system in which the people decide what they want their politicians to do.

All I can say is this: stay strong my fellow democratic participants! Change will not happen over night. It will be a long process, and it will take a lot of screaming, chanting, marching, and phone calls to make our politicians remember that we, the people they serve, have a voice too.

But trust me, the end game will be worth it.

What to take away from the Women’s March on Washington

It started out as a mere Facebook event created by a few, ordinary women looking to voice their opinions following the unpredictable 2016 presidential election back in November. What arose  in the next few months turned into a record-breaking global demonstration, with an estimated five million people, with confirmed numbers yet to be announced, taking part throughout the U.S alone.  Although it was generated as a response to the incoming Trump administration, it exceeded all expectations in turn-out and universal messaging. Almost 700 rallies took place in all 50 states of the US, including our very own city of Toronto, in addition to every continent in the world. 

What started off as a march intended to protest on women’s issues quickly expanded into a human rights movement, highlighting key issues pertaining to people of colour (PoC), the LGBTQ community, immigrants rights, economic participation, the criminal justice system and disability rights, to name a few. As stated by many speakers at the march, women’s issues cannot be compacted into the stereotypical bubbles of reproductive justice or sexual violence. Although these are incredibly important issues, they are not the sole focus of a complex and diverse gender. Whether  you were at home watching powerhouses like Angela Davis,  Alicia Keys, Van Jones and many others speak and perform, or on the streets marching, rest assured that the Women’s March on Washington and seven continents over is currently being deemed the largest U.S-centric protest in history

And while that is a huge reason to celebrate the solidarity and unity of humanity, particularly sisterhood, it is equally important to look at the steps that need to take place following this historical movement, as well as to reflect on the history of peaceful demonstrations and the array of responses they receive.  So, as a sister invested in the movement and a proud WoC, I have a few friendly requests for fellow sisters and transwomen and other allies who want to see positive change going forth from this historic uprising.

Ground your work in understandings of intersectionality and the dynamics between privilege and power. It’s easy to get lost in a sea of pink “pussy hats’’, bold posters and  empowering chants. There is more to solidarity than just showing up for one day. Unfortunately, despite the physical unity and solidarity that was witnessed by hundreds of thousands over the weekend, marches such as this cannot deem us as sisters – at least, not yet. In order to identify as ‘sisters’, we’re going to have to respect the long and sometimes violent history of fighting for justice. A fight that it seems minority groups have taken on by themselves. The fact is, women of colour and other marginalized folk have faced challenges long before Trump and his cronies came into power. The oppression that we hear about goes beyond any one president.

The need to start having real conversations about institutional violence and where other women come in to further the oppression of other sisters, even if it’s unintentional is more important than ever. It is something that needs to be acknowledged. Yes, there were millions on the streets and it’s about damn time, but ask yourself this – where were these crowds when black and brown bodies were being murdered and abused in broad daylight? Where were these protests when Indigenous lands and waters were being threatened and destroyed? If it’s one thing that this march showcased, it’s that the strength isn’t in the numbers, but in listening and respecting stories of the many issues and forms of violence that affect all of us.

It’s just a matter of paying attention.

I’m going to take a moment to specifically speak to my white sisters who are just joining us in the fight for equitable justice: your solidarity and intentions, while sincere, are not always going to be trusted, at least not right away. As stated by the New York Times, ninety-four percent of black women voted for Hillary Clinton. Sixty-eight percent of Latina women did so. But 53 percent of the white female voters in the United States voted for Donald Trump. Your white privilege has offered you many cushions against racial, economic and law enforcement violence. There were no arrests at the women’s march, barely any suspicion on the motivations of the attendees from security personnel.

If this needs to be made any more clear, all we need to do is look at the #J20 protests that took place on inauguration day. Protesters, mainly people of colour, were tear gassed and confronted with military-style interventions during their marches. Be critical of what it means to be a true ally – show up not just when your rights and values are threatened, but when other communities’ existences and humanity are questioned and attacked, as well. Help us. But, before jumping into action, please take the time to ask other groups what they think is the best way forward. Don’t just assume what they need. 

To everyone else; remember, protests look to make a statement. It’s not a trendy activity that you do on a Saturday afternoon. Sure, #womensmarch was trending worldwide on social media, but a movement does not take place overnight. Do not let the hashtag die down. Using hashtags as a buzzword, which is what happens with a lot of other movements (i.e #BLM), undermines the meaning and power behind it. A hashtag is not to be used for the benefits of retweets and shares, but to bring forth hard conversations, not just virtually, but in your daily lives. A hashtag, a representation of the greater movement, let’s voices be heard – often those voices which are systematically silenced.  

To show true solidarity, it’s important to remember that resistance looks very different to many women across the spectrum. Sometimes it isn’t just about the right to make choices over our bodies, but for many others, it is a constant fight to survive. This fight didn’t start with the Women’s March on Washington – but for many generations. It’s time to propel ourselves, together, into the next stages of true intersectional feminism.

My sisters and I need you. Are you here for us?

Women of the Week: Kimberly Carroll

Body/Mind/Spirit coach Kimberly Carroll has a voice that is calm, but focused. It has a powerful quality to it that helps each person she speaks with realize how important it is to care for themselves in order to impact change in others. After listening to her speak, it’s easy to understand her transition from a career in radio and television into a profession that allows her to motivate and help people.

“So many women spend their lives meeting the needs of the people around them. They don’t focus on what makes them a force in the world. This may seem selfless, but ultimately it is a disservice to the world that they don’t step into their power,” Carroll says.

Carroll helps people uncover their true selves through an intensive seven-week program that is supposed to inspire them to find motivation and happiness in their lives. But, Carroll didn’t always want to be a motivational speaker. Originating from Brandon, Manitoba, she grew up immersed in music. She eventually moved to Toronto to take radio and television at Ryerson University.

“Between my second and third year in Ryerson, I was a news reporter in Brandon … [but] realized news wasn’t where I wanted to be,” Carroll says. “After I graduated, I began my career as a arts & entertainment reporter in Winnipeg on MTN, and moved on to some shows in Toronto and in Edmonton.” Carroll took a break in 2002 to travel the world, living in Australia, Amsterdam, and India doing music comedy street shows. She returned to Canada in 2004 to continue her broadcasting career at CBC Radio in Winnipeg, and as host of Take this House and Sell It. “I was the crazy redhead that ran around telling everyone to hurry up,” Carroll recounts while laughing.

Carroll had done well in Canadian radio and television, but her experience on Take this House and Sell It show made her crave answers to the bigger questions. “There is an attitude in television that it is the most important thing in the world. I don’t think television is bad though. I had a wonderful experience, but I wanted to go deeper,” Carroll says. “At a very early age, I was asking the big questions. Why am I here? What am I doing? You can imagine none of the other kids wanted to play with me.”

She began by seeking answers through an intense personal journey that led her to Denise Linn, a world leader and soul coach. Carroll never intended on making soul coaching her life’s work, but felt it was so powerful in her own life it was worth pursuing. “I joke that I sold my soul to television and became a coach to earn it back,” Carroll says.  She began her own practice in 2009 and has been at it ever since.

An important element to her soul coaching is the importance of pursuing a life of animal activism as well. A lot of people don’t believe they can make a difference and don’t pursue advocacy work because of it. Carroll helps people to see that everyone can help in some way or another. “There is an epidemic of people who want to be of service but don’t think they can. My attitude is start now, start today and uses the uniqueness of you,” Carroll says. “Start in small little bite sized ways. The cure for cancer may never come, but you need to start right here with what you have.”

Carroll is an avid activist herself, combining her media skills with her passion for animals. She launched the “Why love one but eat the other” campaign that was featured on buses and subways in Toronto. It was later launched as a cross-country campaign with the animal rights group Mercy for Animals Canada, an organization she helped found.

Carroll has launched several initiatives, including launching the Toronto Vegetarian Foodbank in Toronto with her partner, Matt Noble that serves groceries to 230 people monthly. “We wanted to start an initiative that helped people and animals…we wanted to offer cruelty-free, healthy and eco-conscious food for people living under the poverty line,” Carroll says. “The food bank system often isn’t accommodating for vegans and vegetarians”

Many of Carroll’s clients are animal rights activists, people who have been traumatized by animal suffering. Carroll herself has developed a series of techniques that she shares with and teaches her clients on how to stay centered as an activist.  “I often help women in animal protection. In order to be a power to be reckoned with, you need to pay attention to yourself,” Carroll says. “You can’t pour everything out without refuelling. I’ve learnt a lot of techniques on how to stay centered and charged as an activist.”

Carroll also enjoys reading and listening to music when she can find the time. She recently finished “The Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi, which traces the lineage of sisters born in Ghana over three hundred years and involved being in the slave trade.  Carroll also loves listening to the Ani DiFranco and the Beastie Boys.

Carroll is an inspiring woman whose spirit and tenacity leads other women to see their own potential in making great change on this planet. Carroll’s work helps shift dreams into realities and her fiery spirit definitely empowers others. Everyone could do with an ounce of the positivity that Carroll emits.

Woman of the Week: Anita Krajnc

Tragedy struck in Burlington last week when a truck carrying pigs to slaughter overturned on the highway. Forty pigs were killed in the accident. Fearman’s Slaughterhouse then walked the 100 remaining pigs to be killed in their facility. Animal rights protesters were on the scene to witness a terrible lack of mercy on the part of the slaughterhouse workers. Anita Krajnc of Toronto Pig Save tried desperately to save any of the traumatized pigs from being murdered. She was arrested for crossing police lines and trying to see the pigs that were being hidden from sight behind cardboard barriers. Krajnc was charged with obstructing a peace officer and breach of recognizance. This is the second time she has been arrested for her humane acts towards these animals.

Krajnc is a renowned animal activist in Toronto and the founder of Toronto Pig Save, an animal rights group that leads three weekly vigils for pigs, cows and chickens at three slaughterhouses in the local area. She is a passionate advocate for farm animals and an important figurehead in animal rights in Canada.“Toronto Pig Save began by calling vegan potlucks, and organizing meetings. In July 2011, we started doing three vigils a week,” she said. As of late, Krajnc has been appearing in the news because of a charge of criminal mischief for giving pigs water at Fearman’s slaughterhouse on June 22, 2015. The case is still being fought in court.

Krajnc was inspired to start Toronto Pig Save in 2010 during one of her walks with her dog, Mr. Bean. As she walked along Lakeshore that morning, she saw a number of trucks driving into Quality Meatpackers to slaughter pigs.

Krajnc admits that the protest last week was deeply upsetting to her.“I saw office workers holding up cardboard to hide the victims. As soon as I saw this, I walked passed them and I went over the line right away. I was in a trance. They pushed me back and I got arrested,” Krajnc says. “I’m having a difficulty coping mentally. It is such violence, such injustice. They are holding cardboard sheets to hide what is going on. It really is a tragedy that happens every day and these pigs face unimaginable horrors. It is the extra trauma of the truck crash, but what happens behind closed doors is the systemic abuse.”

Krajnc first became involved in animal rights in the 1990s at university. She previously taught human social strategy  at Queen’s university and has a PhD in political science. In the last six months though, Krajnc confessed she has been struggling emotionally to cope with the continued murder of pigs, chickens and cows. “I’ve been doing five years of vigils and I’ve been stepping back lately,” Krajnc says.  “I’m taking more photos of the activists. I’m burned out. I find it so traumatizing.”

Krajnc is trying to find ways to cope with the stress and trauma of seeing the animals she loves murdered weekly. “I’ve been on a healing mission since May and I’ve changed my behaviour a bit,” Krajnc confesses. “For four years, I’ve been grounded. Then I started to dread going to the cow vigils. It is cumulative. There were more and more slaughterhouse workers mocking us.”

Even though Krajnc has been personally impacted by Toronto Pig Save,  she is quick to bring focus back to the pigs, who she cites as the true victims. She emphasizes that her arrest should not be the media’s focus, but instead reporters should target the way pigs are treated. Protesters caught a video of workers shooting a pig in the head at the site of the accident last week. Over 100 pigs were walked to slaughter after waiting hours trapped in the truck, and pigs that were injured were left on their side, on the road, without water for the better part of the day.

Krajnc points out that it is positive the media is interested in her court case and two charges, but she has an idea why news outlets haven’t taken an interest previously. “The media feels comfortable in reporting truck accidents,  that is considered legitimate. It is easier to report on that than animal cruelty alone,” Krajnc says. “Why does my trial get so much attention? I’ve been doing vigils for five years.”

Krajnc does not give up hope though and doesn’t believe it is the people who are at fault — but instead the system itself. “I read a lot of Tolstoy. He helps me a lot in building loved-based community organizing and bearing witness,” Krajnc says. “When you are in a violent place, it is easy to the hate the injustice— and the people too. But it is the system I hate, not the people.”

 

 “When the suffering of another creature causes you to feel pain, do not submit to the initial desire to flee from the suffering one, but on the contrary, come closer, as close as you can to him who suffers, and try to help him.” – from Leo Tolstoy’s A Calendar of Wisdom 

Regardless of the legal action against Anita Krajnc, she and the rest of the heroes at Toronto Pig Save will continue their work to show pigs, cows, and chickens that someone cares about them and is willing to stand up for their rights.

“I’m giving water to thirsty pigs. It hasn’t changed. We are following the golden rule. No regrets. I tell the truth. Do with it what you will.”