Liberation BC Film Screening Series: Blackfish

Written by Sandra on June 5th, 2014

 

Tilikum

Tilikum

Liberation BC screened Blackfish on May 29th at the Vancouver Public Library. Tilikum, an orca captured as a two-year-old off the coast of Iceland in 1983, is the controversial star of the documentary film, Blackfish. Tilikum is one of many whales kept in captivity in parks like SeaWorld around the world. Blackfish explores the effect of captivity on whales, making the case that captive whales endure mental and physical distress, and pose risks to their keepers. After all, Tilikum is associated with the death of three people.

Blackfish is the first film since Grizzly Man to show how nature can get revenge on man when pushed to its limits. From the Blackfish film description.

The first and traumatic contact that captive whales have with humans is of course during their initial capture. SeaWorld once captured whales in Washington State. Diver John Crowe, who SeaWorld hired to assist with the capture, described a capture in Puget Sound as “just like kidnapping a little kid from his mother.” Howard Garrett, a researcher with the Orca Network, described how adults in the pod of whales split the pod in two as a diversionary tactic. Unfortunately, for the whales, the capture team had a plane spotter follow them to ensure none of the whales could escape and SeaWorld was able to capture a baby. Washington State has since banned SeaWorld from the state, and the company now captures whales in other countries, or in the case of Tilikum, purchases whales from other marine animal parks.

‘I was in awe,’ and ‘I could not believe how huge they were.’ Trainers interviewed in the film recalled their initial impressions of whales as beginning trainers.

Tilikum started his marine park life at Sealand of the Pacific in Victoria, BC. His trainer, Keltie Byrne, died after she slipped into the pool. According to witnesses, the whales prevented her from escaping, and two people identified Tilikum as the culprit. The film examines how Sealand treated Tilikum and other killer whales. Trainers denied whales fish to help control behaviour, scraped the whales’ skin with rakes as punishment, and kept the whales in a small, dark enclosure overnight because Sealand feared that someone would cut the net and allow the whales to escape. After Byrne’s death, public outcry ensured that Sealand closed. Sealand sold Tilikum to SeaWorld, apparently with the understanding that he would not perform but only be used for breeding.

Instead, Tilikum continued to perform and in 1999, a SeaWorld visitor remained after hours and evaded security to enter Tilikum’s tank. Staff found him dead the next day. In 2010, experienced trainer, Dawn Brancheau, died when Tilikum pulled her into the water following a show.

A whale’s life in captivity is dramatically different from their natural habitat. According to Lori Marino of Emory University’s Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology Program, who is interviewed in the film, whales have highly developed emotional lives and even have a part of the brain, the paralimbic region, dedicated to emotion that humans do not. Researchers at Dalhousie note that killer whales possess complex and stable vocal and behavioural cultures.

Research on whales in the wild shows that family ties are strong, and separating whales from their pods is detrimental. When the park took baby Shamu from his mother, trainers recalled the obvious distress that his mother exhibited and the attention that other female whales gave her, evidently in effort to comfort her.

Living in captivity forces whales to live in unnatural circumstances. SeaWorld eventually separated Tilikum from female whales because they were attacking him, so Tilikum spent much of his life in isolation. In the wild, males normally live at the fringe of the pod, unlike in parks where whales live in close confinement with each other and with whales who are not part of their family or cultural groups. Blackfish makes the case that the distress of life in captivity was behind the aggression that Tilkum tragically showed against people.

While Blackfish paints a compelling picture of why whales are completely unsuitable to living in captivity, SeaWorld pushes back with critique of the film and a website dedicated to disputing the Blackfish documentary.

Excellent expose of human brutality to these majestic creatures. Let’s all work to stop this cruelty. Viewer at the Liberation BC screening.

VanAqua

VanAqua

Liberation BC likes to find out a little bit about our film screening audience to see who we are reaching with messages about animal rights. Of the 70 people who turned out for the screening on May 29, 30 responded to our questionnaire about their diet. Seventeen people said they are omnivores, while five said they were vegetarian, seven said they were vegan, and one person indicated ‘other’. Viewers commented that the film is “heartbreaking,” “enlightening and moving,” and one person wrote that “no wild animals should be kept in zoos or tanks.”

Watch for demonstrations at the Night at the Aquarium on June 10th.

Watch the Blackfish trailer.

You may view the trailer or purchase Blackfish on DVD on their website.

Keep an eye out for future film screenings and other events on the Liberation BC Events page.

 

International Respect for Chickens Day!

Written by Sandra on May 13th, 2014
Chicken vigil

International Respect for Chickens volunteers!

Liberation BC commemorated International Respect for Chickens Day on May 4th with a special vigil at the Hallmark Poultry Processors slaughterhouse. Sunday’s event complemented our weekly chicken vigils, which Liberation BC holds every Friday morning in time for hundreds of commuters to see our signs that tell the story about what happens behind the big grey wall. The Sunday vigil included a visit to Church’s Chicken and a stop at Grandview Park on Commercial Drive to hand out informational leaflets about the chicken industry, including how chickens are bred, housed, debeaked, transported, and slaughtered.

International Respect for Chickens Day is a day dedicated to respect and compassion for a frequently maligned animal. However, chickens are much more than mere ‘bird brains.’  According to the Scientific American, scientists have learned through recent studies that chickens “possesses communication skills on par with those of some primates and that it uses sophisticated signals to convey its intentions.” Chickens are able to use prior experience and knowledge to support decision-making and are capable of solving complex problems. Chickens, when left to their own resources, have family ties and develop social hierarchies. Empathy, once thought to be a uniquely human trait, is also part of the makeup of chickens. A Bristol University study showed that they are able to empathize with others, and that female chickens showed clear signs of anxiety when their offspring were in distress. Factory farms have prevented us from observing much of the natural behaviour of chickens’, whose personalities are altered by the stress of inhumane, overcrowded environments.

The volunteers sure got a lot of attention at Sunday’s chicken vigil.

“We got honks galore from the drivers passing by!” says Liberation BC board member and Weekly Chicken Slaughterhouse Vigils organizer Mary-Chris Staples.

Liberation BC would like to thank the volunteers, who included Brigette, Demelza, Samantha, Cynthia, Mavaddat, Alissa, Sigrid, Sophia, Mark, Samareh, Dareios, Paula, Bailey, Meghan, Jane and Denice.

We encourage you to join us during our Weekly Chicken Slaughterhouse Vigils. The greater our numbers, the easier it is to get the word out on what happens behind the walls of the Hallmark Poultry Processing slaughterhouse! We have signs, so all you need to do is show up between 7 am and 9 am on Friday mornings. If you have to leave earlier than 9 am for or need to arrive a little later that 7 am to accommodate your work schedule, you will still be a great help!

Hidden Abused Killed

Hidden Abused Killed behind this wall

Slaughterhouse glass walls

Why doesn't this slaughterhouse have glass walls?

1000s daily

Keep up the great work!

 

Liberation BC Film Series: SPECIESISM The Movie

Written by Sandra on May 4th, 2014
Speciesism The Movie

Speciesism The Movie

About one hundred people joined Liberation BC on April 29th at the Vancouver Public Library to see SPECIESISM The Movie, a surprisingly funny and entertaining film for such a difficult subject. The film takes us on an exploration of the huge factory farms that span the American countryside, far from the sight and thoughts of the average consumer.

The movie’s title is taken from the term speiciesism, a concept popularized by Australian philosopher Peter Singer in his book Animal Liberation. Singer defined speiciesism as “a prejudice or attitude of bias in favour of the interests of members of one’s own species and against those of members of other species.”

The movie director, Mark Devries, set out to investigate one of the ultimate consequences of specieism: factory farming. Mark paid a visit to the PETA headquarters seeking an interview with President Ingrid Newkirk. He asked her about what happens behind the scenes at these large, intensive farms that supply the majority of the neatly packaged, cheap meat at grocery stores. When he asked how he could tell whether she was telling the truth about all the cruelty she said occurred on the farms, she told him he had better go see for himself.

So he did just that. Mark carried out his exploration by crawling through thick bushes that often hide the farms from public view, flying in airplanes above the toxic “manure lagoons,” and approaching the owners in person to ask if they would show them around their farm operations. Of course, the owners all said no.

Undeterred, Mark continued his exploration by visiting the countryside of North Carolina, where locals described some of the consequences of factory farming to residents. One ex-pig farmer told him about how farms sprayed manure from the giant manure lagoons onto surrounding land, which contaminated both land and water sources. He used to fish with his father, who had since succumbed to cancer, until they found that the fish was contaminated with, and tasted like, the runoff from the manure lagoons. “You’re eating shit,” he said.

Mark met with some leaders within the animal rights movement to get their perspective on humanity’s moral obligation towards non-human animals. He interviewed a lawyer who is active in the animal rights movement, David Wolfson, who told him that most ethicists agree that it is wrong to cause harm. Peter Singer described the concept of equal consideration. Equal consideration does not mean giving other species the same rights as humans. Other animals do not want or need the same things that human beings do, but like humans, they want to avoid suffering where possible. The premise of spciesism is there is no justification for considering humans more important than members of other species.

Later in the film, Mark visited a Catholic Church in New York that holds blessings for pets. Mark thought it was only fair that chickens get their blessing too, so he explained to the clergy member that he was hoping he could kindly bless the chickens he couldn’t bring with him. After all, there are billions in the US alone. The clergy was a little bit confused. He hadn’t thought of the odd distinction that humans make between the beloved companion animals we call pets and those animals that we consider food.

By creating the film Speciesism: The Movie, Mark has contributed a thought-provoking film that chips away at that double standard we hold that differentiates between species and allows for the unspeakable cruelty to billions of animals on factory farms.

We surveyed viewers to get their feedback on the film and learn more about our audience. We were surprised that many of the viewers were not vegan or vegetarian, so it appears that we were reaching a wide cross section of people. Of the respondents who answered the question about diet, 16 said they were omnivores, 15 said they were vegetarian and 6 said they were vegan. The comments about the film were largely positive.

“If this film doesn’t convince me to go vegan, nothing will!” (comment left by viewer)

Stay tuned for future free film screenings and other events presented by Liberation BC. The next film is Blackfish, a documentary about Tilikum, a performing killer whale that killed several people while in captivity. The screening is on May 29, 2014 at 7:00 pm at the Vancouver Public Library, 350 West Georgia St.

 

Remember mother cows this Mother’s Day with the Cow Ribbon Campaign!

Written by Sandra on April 9th, 2014

 

© Farm Sanctuary

Mother’s Day is just around the corner! We launched the Cow Ribbon campaign in 2010 to recognize the suffering of dairy cows. Dairy cows must endure a constant cycle of pregnancy and birth in order to maintain uninterrupted milk production. Unfortunately, dairy cows usually only get to be mothers for a matter of hours because their babies are taken away almost immediately after birth so people can drink the milk meant for their offspring. Just like humans, cows grieve the loss of their young.

In fact, the voice of their grief is so loud that it has been known to prompt worried neighbours to call the police in the middle of the night. Strange noises from near the Sunshine Dairy Farm in Newbury, Massachusetts, turned out to be the bellowing and cries of cows who had just lost their babies. Police reassured the public that this was just a normal part of farming practice. While it may be standard practice, cows have strong maternal bonds and their cries are a reflection of their distress.

As for the babies, they lose their mothers shortly after birth, eat formula instead of the milk intended for them, and spend their first few weeks of life isolated in calf hutches or pens. The pens are so small they can barely move around. The National Farm Animal Care Council’s Codes of Practice, after all, recommend a minimum of just 35.5 inches by 65 inches for these 200 pound animals.  Females will usually become dairy cows, while the males are kept for a few weeks until they are ready to be sold for veal.

While dairy cows and their babies suffer year-round, Mother’s Day is a great time to be reminded that cows are mothers too. Wear a cow ribbon, and join us in commemorating the lives of cows who suffer so much loss just for a glass of milk

 

Get your cow ribbon!
Volunteers working hard to assemble the ribbons!

 

 

 

Winning Compassion for Chickens One Look, One Wave, One Heart at a Time: The Evolution of the Chicken Vigil

Written by Mary-Chris on March 2nd, 2014

The first week of the vigil, April, 2013

When we first started the Chicken Vigils outside Hallmark Slaughterhouse at Commercial and Hastings almost a year ago, our goals were simple:   we wanted to be there for the chickens and let the public know what is going on behind that big grey wall.  We were inspired by Toronto Pig Save, Chicken Save, and Cow Save.  Now that the one year anniversary is around the corner, I’d like to share some of the lessons I’ve learned about how to get the most out of the vigils in terms of helping animals.

Early days of the vigil

One of the 3,285,000 sweet little birds we fought for this year at Hallmark Slaughterhouse

Over the past year, activists at the vigils have held signs and waved at motorists passing by, drawing attention to messages of compassion for chickens.  We are often rewarded with honks which is inspiring and motivating.  I hope that our presence outside the slaughterhouse has brought some comfort to the birds inside.  I hope that it has influenced managers to make sure they are, at least,  following the welfare standards that are in place.   There is no question that more people know about the existence of this slaughterhouse than did a year ago.  I hope that many of those people have been affected by our invitation to show compassion for chickens.  It has been heartening to see how many activists have attended the vigils at various times throughout the year, in all kinds of weather and I am proud of what we’ve accomplished!

No words can describe the sadness of witnessing their suffering.

So what’s next?  How can we improve?  How can we maximize benefits to animals?  How can we  inspire as many people as possible to re-think their food choices?

First, it is time to say goodbye to our well-used home made signs!  Initially these signs contained only verbal messages until it was brought to our attention that old adage, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ and we added photos so that even those with only a second to take in the images would have a sense of our purpose.  Still, most of  the signs do not offer any type of call to action.  We are now in the process of having new, professional signs made that are designed to allow readers to LEARN something, FEEL something, and DO something.  The main message will be big and bold with vibrant images to reach the eyes of those drivers passing by when the traffic light is green.  The rest of the message will be seen easily by those who get stopped at the red light.

Ashley bears witness in the lane behind the slaughterhouse.

While the messages on the signs are crucial, I believe that those of us who are holding the signs play a just as crucial a role in maximizing the likelihood that the message will be received.  We do this by acting with genuine purpose.  I have recently begun to pay closer attention to what I actually do at the vigil to see how, along with better signage, I can make a bigger impact on more individuals.   Initially I had been waving generally, at the masses passing by, to get their attention and reacted gratefully when someone honked in response to my message.  But when I really started to pay attention, I began to direct my waves and focus, purposefully, towards each individual pair of eyes, for only a brief second.  I was amazed at what I saw!  Many people made eye contact, smiled, waved, nodded or gave a thumbs up, and, of course, some of them honked!  Previously, I had only paid attention the honks but now I was able to see that many more people could be engaged, with this kind of  personal connection.  Now I wave at each car when the traffic is moving and when it slows down for a red light, I stop waving and move where necessary to let as many people as possible read my sign.  It might be a good time to give my waving arm a rest but it is certainly not the time to lose focus.  As the traffic begins to move again, I make eye contact with as many of these people as I can, wave, and wish them a good day – that’s when I see the most reactions!  I’m not sure these people would be waving or smiling if no one was actually looking at them.  Maybe, just maybe, that personal connection, that personal invitation, makes a difference!  Alex, a regular at the vigils, says that she sees the same thing.  She says she waves at each car as though she’s waving to a good friend and then she visualizes a light going on in their heart!  And it doesn’t have to be done by waving…I watched Allissa one day, direct her attention to a passenger on a bus and have a whole conversation with him, using only her eyes!  The key is being present, doing what we do with purpose.

Alex brings light to hearts!

Maybe just as many people would be affected, just driving by and seeing a bunch of people with signs but I believe that potentially many more can be affected through personal connections.  If I am fully present for the whole time I’m out there, reaching out to people with purpose, I believe I can help animals more!  At least I can go away from the vigil feeling I’ve done everything in my power to help animals.  Sometimes I feel I must seem anti-social at the vigils because I don’t chat very much.  But that is only because I have decided to dedicate that time to the chickens and feel I owe them every single second.  A driver once asked how long we had been on strike.  I realized that it was an easy mistake to make when you see a group of people with signs on a corner.  I believe that being fully present in our outreach will ensure that our message is clear!

The final insult: A dancing chicken on the side of the truck...

There has also been some discussion about holding the vigils at different times to allow more activists to get involved and to reach a different audience.  This may be possible in the future.  For now, the time works well because there is non-stop traffic and there are no parked cars in front of the slaughterhouse at that time.  For sure we are seeing some of the same drivers every week.  Those who are already on our side make sure to honk louder and louder each week.  This not only supports us but it all sends a message to the public that it is not only a handful of activists with signs who see this as an important issue, that there are many more people who care about justice for animals.  For those who were not on our side the first time they drove by, I hope that they are being worn down a little by little every week!  At least, I hope they might admire our determination! But there are definitely many people driving by seeing us for the first time, or at least noticing us for the first time.  It is clear, when you pay attention, that they are taking in the message.  The sign I like to hold tells that 1000s of innocent beings are being slaughtered every day behind the big grey wall.  I see them look up at the wall after reading the sign.

In closing, I just want to comment on the potential irony of smiling and waving when the subject matter is so tragic.  For me, the smile and the wave are used to make a human connection.  I believe I  need to allow individuals to see me as a warm, caring person who they might want to relate to.  I want to invite them, with love, to learn about a very difficult subject.  I have learned this from The Animal Activist’s Handbook by Matt Ball and Bruce Friedrich and from listening to my non-vegan friends who say they feel intimidated by the stern, angry appearance of some activists and are reluctant to approach them if they want more information.  While I believe there is a time and place for a more somber atmosphere, I don’t want anyone to be afraid to approach me to talk about the issue, even if they don’t agree with my views.  I believe that hundreds of thousands of connections like these will contribute greatly to changing the hearts and minds of the world!

 

Someone, not something...

 

The Pet Lover Show at Tradex.

Written by Mary-Chris on February 27th, 2014

After a busy week of amazing animal advocacy activities around Vancouver- Valentine’s events by Animal Voices and Mercy For Animals, our own screening of  ‘Meat the Truth‘, the Friday Chicken Vigil, the fur protest and veg tabling, we topped it off by taking part in the Pet Lover Show at the Tradex Convention Centre in Abottsford on February 15 and 16. We feel that this is an important crowd to target – since they already love some animals, maybe it isn’t be too much of a stretch to get them to extend their compassion to others.  More than 13000 people attended the show over 2 days.  As they arrived, they were given a ‘goody’ bag filled with coupons and information from various vendors.  3000 of those bags contained a Vegan Outreach booklet – Even if You Like Meat, Compassionate Choices, or Why Vegan?.  The bags were stuffed the night before by girl guides.  After dropping off the booklets, I couldn’t help but overhear the girls talking about them – they sure were different from the other materials going in the bags!

The table is set for visitors!

Our table was set up with our usual information and items for sale but for this show, everyone who passed by was offered our ‘Extend Your Compassion‘ leaflet inviting them to make the connection between those animals we love and those we allow to suffer enroute to becoming food.  We had no trouble attracting people to our booth thanks to Stanley and Daisy, the vegan dogs!  Stanley, a German Shepherd cross, rescued from the pound 10 years ago, invited everyone to throw his frisbee for him!  And most people were happy to oblige!  Daisy, the whippet, another rescue – from my next door neighbour who was going to return her to the breeder, was snuggled and kissed by nearly everyone who walked by!  By stopping to see the dogs, people became interested in who we were and what we were all about.   Our famous Liberation BC cow also did her best to attract people to our booth, even salsa dancing to get their attention!  As usual, the bowl of  free stickers was a big hit with the kids!  Being set up on a corner, we were able to hang 3 ‘Why Love One But Eat the Other’ posters on the side, away from the main action making it easier for people to read them in privacy.

Stanley engages a young visitor in a game of tug of war.

Kids couldn't resist our loveable cow!

Daisy and Stanley check out one of the many disturbing displays at the show...

Other booths at the show ranged from sellers of pet food and gear to breeders and clubs as well as a few non pet related booths.  It was hard to walk by the raw food vendors, the leather vendors, the caged birds and reptiles,  the cat breeders’ show, and seeing people wearing fur without feeling discouraged but it was also heartening to see other animal advocacy groups like the Fur Bearer Defenders, Katie’s Place Cat rescueSTOP UBC Animal Research, Greyhaven and a reptile rescue group working the crowd as well!  It was also rewarding to have many positive conversations with visitors to our table.  Very few people were surprised to hear our message.  Most nodded sheepishly and with some sadness and gave the dogs a pat as they checked out the information on our table or asked questions.  Many people took the PCRM Vegetarian Starter Kit, always a good sign!  One woman was moved to tears when she heard for the first time what life is like for a dairy cow when her baby is taken away from her.  It was encouraging to see the reactions of individuals, as they were interacting with our dogs, when they thought about why we love them so much and have no compassion for those who are used for food.  One woman from a booth selling raw meat, came to let us know that she did not believe all animals are equal.  Some are for pets and some are for food.  That’s the way she was raised.  We responded respectfully and let her know that our main concern was to stop the suffering of all animals.  She clearly believed that they didn’t suffer but when she agreed that they were afraid at the time of slaughter she seemed to understand that to us, that was suffering.  Later I went down to her booth and thanked her for coming over to talk to us.  I told her that I believe it’s important to understand each other and to keep the lines of communication open and that I thought she was brave to come over by herself and face the 4 of us.  She thanked me and said that she does see where we’re coming from – she’s been in a slaughterhouse.

Willow answers questions as interested visitors browse through the CAFO book.

We gave out 100 samples of V-dog vegan dog food, endorsed heartily by Stanley and Daisy!

The message is clear!

All in all it was a very productive and encouraging weekend.  We worked hard!  No one got by our booth without knowing who we were and being offered our leaflet – we gave out 1500.  Whether working at the coat check, answering questions, handing out V-dog samples and leaflets, or engaging the crowd in the cow suit, our team worked non-stop inviting the public to consider extending the compassion they have for cats and dogs and other companion animals to those who are treated as commodities.  Thanks so much to Sandra, Farhad, Darren, Sophie, Jane, Amira, Willow, Andrea, Stanley, and Daisy  for giving up your weekend to speak out for animals!!

 

Meat the Truth

Written by Willow on February 21st, 2014

Meat the Truth is a documentary that  provides insight into one of the most overlooked contributions to global warming: the impact of factory farming on the environment. It attempts to fill the gap left by the 2006 Academy Award winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, which drew the attention of millions to the issue of global warming. As effective as Al Gore’s documentary was, it failed to mention the largest single contributor to the greenhouse gas effect.

On February 11, 2014, we showed Meat the Truth as part of our Eyes Wide Open film screening series to an audience of 79 at the central Vancouver Public Library.

Mary-Chris introduces the film to the audience at the Vancouver Public Library

Meat the Truth is presented by Marianne Thieme, who is the leader of the Party for the Animals in the Netherlands. She set out to expose one of the most significant causes of climate change, intensive factory farming. The beginning of the film starts with interviews of passersby to obtain a sense of what the general public thinks are the main cause of climate change.

Cars. Factories. Aviation. Energy use. Gas. Power stations. Coal. These were causes repeatedly cited as the key culprits in climate change.

Pollution from industry, transportation, and residential energy use obvious contributors to climate change. However, the statistic for how much greenhouse gases are attributed to factory farming, 18%, drew gasps from the audience. The entire transportation industry is responsible for only 13%. The statistics are from the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)’s 2006 report that made one of the first links between intensive farming and climate change. For more information, read Livestock in a Changing Landscape on the FAO site.

Marianne Thieme poses the question several times through-out the Meat the Truth film. Why are we not aware of this? Why did one of the most compelling documentaries about climate change leave out what UN scientists have identified as the largest single contributor to climate change?

“If everyone in the United States ate a vegetarian diet for seven days, they would save around  seven hundred megatons of greenhouse gas emissions. That would be just the same removing  all of the cars in the USA off the roads.” (See carbon savings tables)

Only Al Gore could answer this question. However, Marianne Thieme included an interview with Howard Lyman, a career factory farmer turned vegan. Mr. Lyman suggested that critiquing the animal farming industry is bound to be met with resistance. In the interview, he noted that his appearance on Oprah, in which he talked about what he believed to be serious consequences of factory farming, was followed by a lawsuit made by cattle farmers.

The film demonstrates the consequences that intensive animal farming has on our environment and illustrates some of the impact that it has on animal welfare. It probably could have taken its examination of the consequences further, by looking more deeply into health issues and the magnitude of its impact on animals, but the film helps fill an important gap in the public awareness about global warming.

Darren and Liz answer questions from the audience after the film

It also shed little light on the dairy industry, and as one audience member pointed out, Marianne Thieme focussed on eating a vegetarian diet. She illustrated the impact that going vegetarian even one day week could make, but could have pointed out that a vegan diet would have even an greater impact as the dairy sector is also a significant part of the intensive farming industry.

If you are interested in viewing the film, it is available online at the Meat the Truth website.

Written by Sandra, posted by Willow .

 

Volunteer Spotlight: John Federico

Written by Mary-Chris on February 4th, 2014
Neither rain nor sleet nor snow keeps John from coming out every Friday morning to speak up for animals!

John Federico only became actively involved in animal rights activism about a year ago but I honestly don’t know how we survived before he came on the scene! He has done such a great deal of work for us in 2013 and his dedication and passion are greatly appreciated.
John became vegan in 2009 after being vegetarian for most of his life. His reasons for being vegetarian were related to health and fitness and it wasn’t until later, after his children were born, that he became aware of the horrors of factory farming. Reading the book ‘Eating Animals’ by Jonathan Safran Foer was the tipping point for him to become vegan.
Still, John wasn’t really aware of animal advocacy groups. One year he joined Sinead Sanders as she performed at the Walk For Farm Animals and that’s when he discovered like minded people. He didn’t see himself as a rebel type, however, and believed his silent personal protest was enough. Sinead then brought him out to one of Liberation BC’s morning chicken vigils at the Hallmark Poultry Slaughterhouse at Hastings and he Commercial. “I spent time in the alley, close up to those poor birds and saw that more was needed to be done for them,” said John.  Since that day, back in April, he has attended every vigil except one! And he stays for the full 2 hours every time! In fact, John makes the vigils possible because he packs up the signs at the end of each one and gets them back to me. When I was away for most of the summer and then again at Christmas, I was concerned about the vigils carrying on. John and several other dedicated activists kept them alive!

Daisy the Liberation BC dairy cow tells the crowd to "Go Vegan!'


John’s volunteer work has moved beyond just the chicken vigils. He wore our famous cow costume at Veg Fest this past summer and was approached by a rep for the BC Lions who liked the costume and John’s antics. She invited him to participate in the annual BC Day football game that featured a halftime soccer game between 20 mascots! John recruited the help of another amazing Liberation BC volunteer, Taylor Freeman who took photos. At halftime, John was introduced as ‘Daisy the Cow’ from Liberation BC. On the back of the costume, in huge block letters, were the words “GO VEGAN!!” As the goalie for his team, ‘Daisy’ hammed it up, blowing kisses and falling on his back when trying to kick the ball! Several people came up to him afterwards and told him that the soccer game was the best part of the day!
In September, John was instrumental in helping to hand out 400 leaflets to walkers at the SPCA’s Paws for a Cause, inviting them to join the Walk for Farm Animals. He has also helped us at many other leafletting events.

John and Sinead work the Paws for a Cause crowd in Stanley Park

John is a musician who hosts an Open Mic night every Saturday night at the Wired Monk Cafe on 4th Ave. He loves meeting all the wonderful, talented singers and musicians. He has his own CD called ‘Conscience Free’. He also feels blessed be able to play Kirtan music at Yoga West, Kundalini Yoga being another of John’s loves.
John Federico is an amazing person who gives so much of himself to others and here at Liberation BC, we don’t know what we’d do without him! As for John, he says he is “grateful to have an established organization where I can work and express my desire to help animals. If it’s handing out leaflets, holding a sign, or dressing as a cow, it is always time well spent. To be among like minded people working together for these precious beings on earth helps me believe there is a chance for an awakening. There is nothing more satisfying than doing something selflessly!”  With people like John on our side, the future is full of  hope!

 

An Evening with Dr. Martin Godwyn: How to Argue Effectively for Animal Rights

Written by Mary-Chris on December 14th, 2013

Back in October, Liberation BC was fortunate enough to have Dr. Martin Godwyn come to our Volunteer Night to share some of his wisdom on how to argue effectively on behalf of animals.  Dr. Godwyn – Martin, was a very popular speaker at the 2012 Animal Advocacy Camp at UBC.  At that time we threw all kinds of dilemmas at him, arguments we are all met with as we fight for animal rights, and he had a good come back for each of them!  So we were thrilled when he offered to come and speak to us.  A link to his notes can be found at the end of this blog.

Martin began his talk with an introduction to arguing in general and some guidelines to follow.  He emphasized that the term ‘argue’ as he would use it did not refer to ‘fighting’ with someone over an issue.  Instead, it means to present   premises and respond to those presented by another person.  He suggested the following guidelines:   Keep emotion out of the argument, remember what the actual issue is, listen carefully to the other person, be clear about your position and why you believe it.  These all seem so obvious but I know myself how easy it is to get sidetracked by emotion or a secondary issue and end up defending something that has nothing really to do with what I am trying to say.  Sometimes I become so busy trying to formulate my own thoughts that I don’t even take in what the other person is saying!

He went on to explain how arguments actually work:  Premises or claims are made that are intended to result in some kind of conclusion.  Two basic questions are required before even entering into the argument: Are the premises acceptable and plausible? Do the premises offer adequate support for the conclusion?  If the answer to either question is “no” according to Dr. Godwyn, it is a bad argument.  If we can recognize when an argument is not good, we can save a great deal of energy by addressing the problem with the argument rather than getting sidetracked and losing sight of our message.   There are three types of premises:  conceptual, empirical, and normative and, depending on the type of claim, you will approach the argument differently.  He offered several examples of how to do this – very helpful!

One of the most fascinating parts of the talk for me was about fallacies in arguments.  Fallacies are moves made in an argument that are not rationally sound but are very persuasive and may derail an argument!   An example of one type of fallacy is Ad Hominem.  Martin gave this example:  Someone says, “Well you would say that, you’re a vegan.”  If your argument is that animals feel pain, the fact that you are vegan has nothing to do with it.  Animals feel pain no matter what you eat.  But I know how easily I can be thrown off guard by a comment like that and lose my cool rather than just state that the point has nothing to do with the argument.   There are many more of these types of ‘traps’ and knowing they exist can help us plan our own arguments better and be prepared to spot the fallacies in others’.

Martin finished up the evening with some real examples of arguments he took from the internet.  We read through them and tried to spot the merits and flaws in each argument.   One thing was certain, they weren’t so easy to spot and we realized that it will take a fair bit of practice to get good at this skill.

Dr. Godwyn makes it look so easy!  I wasn’t kidding when I told him I wished I could keep him on speed dial for those times I find myself feeling lost in an argument and unable to come up with the perfect response!  I do however feel far more equipped now to prepare my own arguments in such a way that they will be as strong as possible and I will be more likely to spot the weaknesses in the arguments of my opponents.  With practice, I hope I will be able to speak more confidently on behalf of animals.  It is a real credit to Martin’s commitment to animals that he  was willing to come out and teach us after teaching all day -  we really appreciated it!  Thank you!  Please check out the link below to get much more detail about how to argue effectively for animals!

Martin’s Notes

 

2013 Walk for Farm Animals: A Celebration of Hope!

Written by Mary-Chris on October 25th, 2013

Speaking up for the animals!

For seven years Liberation BC has been proud to organize the Walk for Farm Animals to benefit Farm Sanctuary and all the amazing work they do to help change the way the world views farm animals. For over 25 years they have rescued animals from horrendous conditions, shared their stories as a way to educate the public, and fought to change the laws that allow humans to legally abuse and kill animals by the billions every year.

This year’s walk was the best yet. Nearly 150 compassionate people raised money and came out to show their support for animals. Together we raised over $16,000!  During registration, walkers enjoyed delicious snacks donated by Edible Flours and warmed up with yoga led by Cynthia, from Animal Voices. Elektra painted faces and created balloon animals for the kids.

Our famous cow!

Hayley is ready to go...

Ray helped to hand out leaflets to passersby.

Good question, Gabbey.

When it was time to go the fantastic Carnival Band and members of the VPD led us into the streets of downtown Vancouver where we took up two lanes of the road for our 2.8 mile walk. The festive music and enthusiasm of the leader of the Carnival Band announced our approach and the public were greeted by posters, smiles, waves, and thousands of leaflets handed out by the walkers. It was a parade-like atmosphere where walkers and onlookers alike danced and celebrated together and the message was clear – we are hopeful that things are changing and we will never give up the fight for animal rights!

Here we go!

The Carnival Band!

...on the march.

When the walk finished,  everyone celebrated together back at Library Square with entertainment by Sinead Sanders.  While the raffle prizes were awarded, hungry walkers lined up for fabulous Loving Hut lunch options.

Sinead

Sinead!

People line up for lunch at the Loving Hut Express.

The Walk was a huge success!  Many thanks to our fantastic volunteers: John, Sandra, Kendal, Brooks, Kimberly, Yuanyang, Sasha, Cathryn, Taylor, and EVERYONE who carried banners and handed out leaflets.  And a special thanks to Tanya and Hayley for taking photos! (You can see more photos here.)

Thank you to all of our amazing sponsors: 3G Restaurant, Bandidas Taqueria, Daiya, Dazey Dog Photography, Edible Flours, Eternal Abundance, Feed Life, Fit Foods, Graze Restaurant, Loving Hut Express, Nice Shoes, Organic Lives, Saje Natural Wellness, Tao Organics, Whole Foods, and Zimt Chocolate.

But most of all, thanks to ALL of the walkers!  Your compassion and energy are infectious and are changing the world right now.  See you all next year!