This week, vegan actor and activist Joaquin Phoenix attended a pig vigil at slaughterhouse Fearmans Pork in Burlington, Ontario, Canada—where 65-year-old animal-rights activist Regan Russell was killed by a slaughterhouse truck driver in June while giving pigs water. Phoenix joined animal-rights activists from Toronto Pig Save and Russell’s husband Mark Powell to pay tribute to the slain activist while bearing witness to pigs arriving at the slaughterhouse. “I’m here to honor Regan and all of the activists that dedicate their lives to ending this injustice,” Phoenix said. 

Shortly after her death in June, Phoenix joined more than 100 animal-rights activists at a vigil to honor Russell—who has been fighting for animal rights since 1979—at the Smithfield-owned Farmer John slaughterhouse in Vernon, CA. “Regan Russell spent the final moments of her life providing comfort to pigs who had never experienced the touch of a kind hand,” Phoenix said in June. “While her tragic death has brought upon deep sorrow in the Animal Save community, we will honor her memory by vigorously confronting the cruelties she fought so hard to prevent by marching with Black Lives, protecting Indigenous rights, fighting for LGBTQ equality, and living a compassionate vegan life.”

Phoenix also spoke out about Bill 156, “ag-gag” legislation passed one day before Russell was killed that bans activists from “interacting” with farmed animals to document their abuse—which is the subject of new documentary There Was a Killing, created by Earthlings filmmaker Shaun Monson. “The Ontario government can attempt to silence us with the passage of its Ag-Gag bill—Bill 156—but we will never go away and we will never back down.” 

During his stay in Toronto, Phoenix spent time spreading kindness in other ways. Earlier this week, the actor, his fiancé Rooney Mara, and son River paid a special visit to Animal Liberation Kitchen in Toronto for the sole purpose of expressing their gratitude for a meal they had from the vegan eatery the day prior.

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