Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary is the oldest of its kind in Ontario, Canada. On June 15, 2019 they celebrated 20 years of farmed animal rescue with a lovely “Year of the Pig” open house.
These open houses (bi-yearly) help our community to build compassionate values through experiencing the presence of animals who have been rescued from all sorts of oppressive situations. Their stories are shared to honour each journey, revealing the true healing that occurs in an environment of love and respect. Their personalities develop with time as they learn to trust again. This is wonderfully inspiring to witness. The rescued animals are true teachers to us humans about life and our relationship to it.
Events like this help Cedar Row to fund-raise for annual costs that come with running an animal sanctuary. Hay and straw serve as nourishment to the animals, and bedding, respectively. The annual cost of those two things combined is $14,000.00. In addition, the constant care of rescued animals consists of countless vet appointments and medication/other special medical assistance to rehabilitate severely injured animals (there are plenty of them, unfortunately). Property/building maintenance and other costs also exist. You can now imagine how important all the support truly is for directly caring for these sentient beings. Siobhan Poole who runs the Sanctuary is extremely compassionate and dedicated. She is there every day, rain, snow, ice, or shine, ensuring that these animals’ needs are met. This is her life’s work and it is TOUGH. Nobody is paying her an hourly rate to do this, but she perseveres on and on, because she is genuinely in it for the animals.
At the open house, there were vegan-friendly food vendors, a bouncy castle for kids, live music by students of Summer Weiler’s World’s Coolest Music Store, a lemonade stand run by Summer’s daughter Alba and husband from which all proceeds ($293.00) were donated back to Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary! Cedar Row had volunteers grilling pea protein burgers and even animal information talks where Samantha Farias spoke to groups about the stories behind how specific animals were rescued and the situations they were once in. There was a tambola raffle which featured prizes generously donated by compassionate businesses and individuals. All the volunteers were so visible this year in bright red tees which I had the pleasure of screenprinting this year! It was blessed to show my vegan artivism as well- thank you to angelic beings Kristen and Jason Houghton for so kindly letting me borrow their tent that day! It came in very handy during the showers before the open house kicked off.
This incredible event wouldn’t have been possible without the many volunteers who helped in diverse ways, from event planning and organization, to volunteer work visits leading up to the open house, to the speakers, musicians, and barbeque-ers. Thank you to everyone who came out and showed their support for the compassionate revolution occuring as we speak. Here’s to a world of justice and compassion for all! <3
We are all one in spirit, but at the physical realm of individuals it’s difficult to avoid absolutely all harm (it’s certainly not difficult, however, to live a vegan lifestyle). Even social media comments and posts can have undertones of violent energy. So how do we apply ahimsa in our lives? We need to understand that ahimsa is about our intentions. Do we have intentions to harm others? If yes, then this is not aligned with ahimsa. If we have no intention to cause harm, even if we accidentally step on a bug, etc. this is still to some degree in alignment with ahimsa because at the soul level we purely didn’t intend to do so.
This now comes down to being sincere with ourselves. I still notice thoughts arising in my mind that don’t necessarily align with ahimsa. Coming from a past of substance abuse and body image issues, I still experience remnants of negative thought patterns that indicate the mental health journey continues. It is important to clearly look at this inner misalignment to ahimsa, because the vibrations of our thoughts do affect the world and the lives of others. This is truly why I choose meditation twice daily along with positive affirmations, and other spiritual studies as often as possible. Many thanks to the Self-Realization Fellowship for supplying meditation lessons and techniques, which I am a student of to this day. Living a vegan lifestyle is definitely what ahimsa manifests as on an evolved, conscious level!
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We find ourselves surrounded by greed, oppression and propaganda in the modern world. Consumerism is glamorized by its very limitations in material possession and hierarchy. It is overwhelming for countless individuals to navigate involvement in this societal labyrinth. What our soul truly craves “…cannot be found in the things or conditions of the world” (Br. Anandamoy, 1998). Quenching our spiritual thirst involves union (yoga) with our indestructible, changeless Spirit.
Who do we become once we liberate ourselves from the illusions of separation, expectation, and attachment? In truth, our potential is infinite. May we step beyond the confines of the current paradigm and enter into an immense place of possibility, offering abundance of peace, compassion, and oneness for All.
Meditation is an ancient yoga technique which accelerates our progress towards the goal of Self-Realization. It enables the practitioner to unite with higher states of consciousness, transcending attachment to illusory separation, change, duality, etc.
Dusty Miller was a rescued turkey who resided at Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary and recently passed away peacefully due to a weak heart. He was one of the most well-known residents at the sanctuary because of his bold presence. Siobhan, the main operator of Cedar Row, was the only human who had closely bonded with him.
I remember enjoying several musical conversations with Dusty in turkey language, his soft voice cooing in diverse notes within the span of seconds. One experience I shared with Dusty affected me on an inexpressibly deep level. It happened during a work visit in July 2018, while cleaning the chicken coop with another volunteer. I was crouching to scrub a feed bucket as Dusty approached. We were about an arm’s length away ̶ maybe even closer to a wing’s length.
The intensity of unfamiliar closeness with a powerful form of sentience struck me all at once. His riveting presence managed to capture every single drop of my attention. The stillness of those moments moved me to such heightened awareness that I couldn’t comprehend anything more than our two souls connecting. Dusty had healed me through this pure, genuine union.
My courage floundered once he hobbled closer with one more step. I wish that I had the strength to accept his innocent curiosity, but in that moment my fear won over. The stillness was broken, and I made a rise to standing. To a sensitive soul like Dusty, I think that my choice to become defensive amplified his edginess.
A friend once told me that “vulnerability is the greatest armour”, at York Lane Art Collective while I was working on the above portrait of Dusty (for the Summer of Peace open house in June 2018). These wise words had proven to be true with Gabe the goose, who ceased biting once I met him at eye level; and Dusty Miller, for the short minute in which I allowed myself to be 100% vulnerable. These kinds of transformative connections with sentient life are what I hope to honour through my artivism. Dusty leaves us inspired to face the challenges of life with surety and confidence.
Painting photographed by David Leasa (@dkleasa)
Canvas frame built by Joe Guzvinec (@deepinfiniteye)