This is dear Peony, her portrait was created last year for T.O.F.U.’s 14th issue: “Burnout”. Being born into an exploitative industry, Peony was a ‘runt’ with distended liver and other damaged internal organs. A gentle innocent being who went through an enormous struggle.
This artivism accompanied an article “The Loss of an Animal” written by Zoe Peled. Zoe wrote of Peony’s life after rescue, and how their bond evoked deep emotional response.
“When we lose an animal, there is no perfect solution to navigating grief. Grief is something that we all experience differently, and it’s imperative that we are permitted to do so. Within the animal rights community, we encounter loss on a regular basis, and in varying amounts. Identifying the emotional capacity needed to process this is not only important, it is also crucial for longevity and wellness.” – Zoe Peled, The Loss of an Animal.
Visually contributing to Zoe’s loving article brought an ever deeper sense of purpose into the creative process.
This year, the compassionate collaborations resurfaced with T.O.F.U.’s 15th issue focusing on capitalism. Ryan, the editor and co-founder of T.O.F.U. Magazine, paired me with Kenya Gutteridge’s writing. Upon reading Kenya’s article “Enclosed”, the content instantly resonated. Her writing focuses on addressing the oppression which is tied into our current existence in society.. She brings reverent awareness to the Indigenous peoples, and the importance of understanding our roots to be able to start growing in better directions.
“My ancestors’ way of thinking was that which commodified land, animal, and human alike. It is this way of thinking that facilitated my family’s purchase of the place where my garden rests, a place bustling with the activity of diverse peoples—Wendat, Mississauga, Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabeg, and many others—long before the arrival of the first white person. It is this way of thinking that facilitated its so-called purchase under Treaty no.13, as dubious and haphazard as so many land deals made by Canadian colonizers, for which the first peoples of this place have never seen anything close to reparations.” – Kenya Gutteridge, Enclosed
For digital copies of T.O.F.U. Magazine, check out this link. They are available by donation, which makes them highly accessible! Also, if you are feeling lucky, there are 8 copies along with some creative artivism patches and new No Fur No Feathers stickers to be won! Entries accepted until 11:59PM PST Sunday, November 17, 2019. To find contest info and enter, visit @tofumagazine and @veganmonika on Instagram!
Find T.O.F.U. Magazine, Zoe Peled, Kenya Gutteridge on Instagram:
Attended by compassionate souls from far and wide, Animal Liberation Toronto’s first conference made positive impact on individuals and the community. The four-day event was initiated in Victoria University’s Northop-Frye building. Opening ceremonies included reverent acknowledgement that our gathering takes place on unceded territory of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and the Mississaugas of the Credit River peoples.
After a few introductions, we jumped into a series of informative talks and workshops called “breakout sessions”. Multiple sessions ran through each time block, allowing individuals to choose from a wide range of topics. Tales from Hell was the first session which my travel buddy and I decided on. We were stunned by the stories of official undercover investigator Kevin Lahey. For over 3 years, Kevin meticulously documented practices within slaughterhouses —under the guise of an unsuspecting employee— to later expose every detail. There is currently high demand for undercover investigators, for which very specific individuals are selected. Candidates must have discreet public profiles that do not indicate any affiliation with animal rights. Justin Reineke recounted oppression within the slaughterhouse industry as an ex-worker. Hearing details of “common-practice” sexual abuse towards non-human animals during artificial insemination was shocking. The same oppression against sentient beings is continuously witnessed worldwide during vigils by Save Movement organizer Nevenka Potoknic.
All-conference talks included Between Crisis-Phobia and Crisis-Philia: on the Ethics of Infighting by Aaron Yarmel, Mass Actions and Civil Disobedience by Amy Sorrano, and How Not To Go Extinct by Dr. Sailesh Rao (who is executive producer of documentaries like Cowspiracy: the Sustainability Secret, What the Health, and The Human Experiment). There was no shortage of thoughtful plans and perspectives for our next steps as activists.
That evening, Cube of Truth activism was held in Dundas Square. Between two- and three-hundred effective conversations about animal liberation were held between activists and the public. There were 6-8 Cubes in total— three of the most massive stood side by side. “The energy was crazy!” says activist VeganManKind.
S A T U R D A Y
Toronto saw 1000+ participants in the Official Animal Rights March 2019. This global, annual event was founded in the UK by Surge, an animal rights organization. Approximately 6 kilometers were traveled in 4 hours. The march was so intense that it was hard to imagine anything more epic… until hail began to downpour, and lightning shot through the cityscape horizon. Limitless compassion splashed onwards through the busy streets. Volunteers prioritized safety by guiding all away from stepping on streetcar tracks (no electrocution, please!). The police even pitched in by regulating traffic and blocking off countless intersections which were stopped in the name of sentience. The march came to a halt in front of Cumbrae’s Butcher Shop on Queen Street West, where some (hearty) food for thought was delivered via megaphone. Another halt occurred on Younge and University Street where 15-year-old Eliza Lestrange’s voice boomed against the surrounding high-rise buildings with another original speech. She had written and memorized it just days before.
route approached the Canadian National Exhibition which hosts Canada’s largest
annual fair (with approximately 1.5 million visitors each year). Fun fact: activists
in large marches don’t have to pay admission. As we entered through the
gates, I thought, “This is a rather potent location for activism. The main
purpose in attending a fair is to experience. We now demand an
experience beyond simple entertainment: the exploration of morals and
conscience”. Imagine gliding along the ski lift: it’s Saturday afternoon with a
view. In the distance, you hear “ONE STRUGGLE, ONE FIGHT, HUMAN FREEDOM, ANIMAL
RIGHTS!”. As the voices become more audible, you see hundreds of activists
approaching. Their signs portray oppressed animals— brothers and sisters to those
whose flesh roasts in smoky food trucks below. There is nowhere to turn but
inwards, to some long-avoided self-reflection. It was inevitable that deep
reflection was inspired in the public through this march, even way up in the
S U N D A Y
We traveled bright and early to a Burlington slaughterhouse: Fearman’s Pork Inc. The plan was to bear witness for pigs, who are shipped there daily in massive trucks. Upon arrival, it was soon realized that the desolate slaughterhouse was not accepting new victims that morning. Google search even revealed that Fearman’s was temporarily closed. Fearman’s did this for one reason: to avoid mass exposure of animal cruelty. The colossal facility takes the lives of 10,000 young pigs every 24 hours. We blocked off the neighbouring Burlington intersection with countless signs showing the victims’ faces. A “die-in” was held there for several minutes where all laid down in the intersection as a poignant speech was delivered. Police blocked off impatient cars. The sounds of screaming pigs being slaughtered screeched through a megaphone.
Shortly after the “die-in”, activists visited the owner of Sofina Foods (& Fearman’s Pork Inc.) Michael Latifi. His palatial-fortress-mansion was unsurprisingly a decent distance from the slaughterhouse he owns. Over 100 activists symbolically brought the ghosts of pigs, walking single file to line up along a *tiny* segment of his property. Rhythmic drums sounded as the protest approached the eerie mansion. Grim Reaper led the way. Signs were planted in the (city’s) grass to resemble a cemetary. Anita Krajnc spoke, who had been charged for criminal mischief in 2015 for giving water to the very pigs whose blood funds this other-worldly abode.
Fur Free Toronto disruptions were held in the evening at Toronto Eaton Centre, which resulted in lock-down of the mall due to protest. Some of the activists were trapped in a tunnel for half an hour with unfriendly police, who shut the large garage doors on either side. The tunnel had transparent walls, overlooking a busy street. Activists continued to display their signs even during this period confinement. For more details on the Fur Free Toronto protest, click here .
M O N D A Y
Minimal detail was given in advance about what would ensue on Monday morning. It was known that the imminent non-violent direct action would involve risk for arrest. The destination revealed to be Maple Leaf “Poultry” Chicken Slaughterhouse on Ethel Ave. This Toronto slaughterhouse takes the lives of an estimated 200,000 chickens each day. With a large box, chains, pails of cement, and water, animal liberationists entered the facility where concrete was immediately mixed onsite. The box of fresh concrete was placed underneath a garage door entrance where activists chained themselves on either side to prevent closing or removal. 4 chickens were freed from within by activists who used pipe cutters to open truck crates. The rescued sentient beings were taken to a compassionate forever home. To see high-quality footage documenting this direct action, click here. The more exposure of what is hidden behind the walls of these animal exploitation industries, the better. For more details about this direct action at Maple Leaf slaughterhouse, check out this article.
The first Animal Liberation Toronto Conference was a huge success, packed with community building, education, food, and non-violent direct action (which is the most effective method for creating compassionate change)! If you are still looking for more content, the conference was mentioned in the Toronto Star.
Special thanks to VeganManKind for providing links to the exterior sources mentioned, and for updating me on the events I was not able to participate in!
Oregon-based Wemoon publishes a yearly lunar calendar which features art by womyn worldwide. It is a blessing to contribute Chonch-ious Currents, a deeply expressive painting, for their 2020 datebook. Each year the datebook is assigned a theme. Wake Up Call is their 2020 theme, which is certainly appropriate for the world to revel and reflect on!
I still remember crying through this painting while exploring themes of empowerment, liberation, and the oceanic depth of intuition.
Since 2016, I have been staying in tune with the moon through their beautiful, inspiring calendars. Each edition donates a percentage of proceeds to helping womyn in a specific cause. To find out more about their mission and collaborative creations, visit wemoon.ws
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. A tambola raffle featured prizes generously donated by compassionate businesses and individuals. All the volunteers were visible in bright red tees which I had the pleasure of screenprinting this year! It was blessed to feature vegan monika originals 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
Originating in ancient Eastern spirituality, ahimsa is becoming more prevalent as a principal of ethical living on a global scale. Its meaning can be described simply as “non-injury”. A slightly more complex meaning of ahimsa is “the removal of the desire to kill”. In this perspective, Swami Sri Yukteswar elucidates that ahimsa not only involves abstaining from literal injury to another being. On a deeper level, it even applies to removing the intention of injury before any physical action is followed through.
This design focuses on the ocean, in particular, its sentient life. Aquatic creatures are so mystical in the way that they experience a completely different perspective in a world of water. A whole new level of intelligence, communication, perception… brings a sense of reverence and wonder. Seaspiracy is an excellent documentary if you are curious to learn more about how these beings are impacted by human practices and industries. Get involved with the compassionate movement in their name!
For easier viewing, view this page on a device with a larger screen (e.g. tablet, computer). Another option is to tilt your phone sideways which will enlarge the images. Feel free to save this recipe to your device so you can haul the ingredients and make it at home!
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)