We hold three vigils a week throughout the year. We encourage everyone to bring a camera and share the footage you take with your friends and family.

Please join our  “Toronto Pig Save weekly vigils to bear witness” events page on Facebook. If you are not on FB please email us at torontopigsave@gmail.com  and we’ll add you to our weekly email list.

Visit our YouTube and Vimeo channels for footage of our vigils.

Where are the vigils?

* one weekly vigil is at Lakeshore and Strachan – across from the Exhibition’s Prince’s Gates – where transport trucks carrying frightened and sad pigs pass on their way to “Quality Meat Packers” slaughterhouse

* we hold one weekly vigil at “St. Helen’s” and “Ryding-Regency Meat Packers” cow slaughterhouse, at 1 Glen Scarlett Road, one block northwest of St. Clair and Keele, followed by a vigil at Maple Leaf “Poultry” at 100 Ethel Street.

* on Sundays, we leaflet at Dundas Square and other busy locations from 1-3 and the last Sunday of the month we’re at “Quality Meat Packers”677 Wellington St. West (the unloading area)


Photo f a sad and frightened pig taken at a Toronto Pig Save vigil in 2012.

Photo of a sad and frightened pig taken at a Toronto Pig Save vigil in 2012.

The significance of bearing witness:

“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 her who suffers, and try to help her.”

-Leo Tolstoy, A Calendar of Wisdom



“Bearing Witness”, a blog about Toronto Pig Save vigils

Download our observation sheet which details any possible violations of animal cruelty laws and codes.

[Thank you Kaitlyn Mitchell and Natalie Smith for providing Toronto Pig Save with an overview of legislation and codes related to addressing animal cruelty in transport, unloading, and slaughterhouses and Tracy for putting together observation charts.]

71 Responses to "Events: Bear witness at vigils"

  1. Sherry Burnett Posted on January 7, 2011 at 12:02 am

    Gwen, I am drowing in tears. Your beautiful gesture, (actually, it is so much more than just a gesture) is tearing at my heart. You are so brave, to stand there, bearing witness to this daily assault on innocent animals. I want to come and stand with you. I want dozens, hundreds, to come and stand with you. I don’t think I could listen to the screams for very long, but it’s nothing compared to what they have to endure. Gwen, can you contact me, I want to help.

  2. anastasia tivas Posted on January 8, 2011 at 9:14 pm


    I have no idea where to begin.
    From what I just read, I have learned that there ARE still wonderful remarkable people still out there, like yourself. You have so much compassion and dedication that it is amost overwhelming. In a VERY good way. This brought me to tears, as anything that involves animals suffering for humans selfish meaningless use. I would give anything to stand right there along side you. I am beyond sad and hurt when I think about all of the pain and suffering that all animals suffer. When I know about someone like you and as wonderful as you are is out there fighting and enduring the emotional pain of this task, it leaves me feeling hopeful. I am so sorry that people said those mean things to you. You know that they are garbage as much as I do. Gwen, even though we have never met, I admire you so much and I would love to call you a friend.

    Btw my name is Ana and I’m 17 years old.
    Check out my animal rights 1 girl campaign.
    Facebook.com- Anastasia Briana (my project animal peace facebook)

  3. susan morris Posted on January 10, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    You are a brave, kind women & I thank you for being there for these souls. I agree with Sherry, we must plan something & come out to stand shoulder to shoulder with you.
    Thank you for what you are doing….

    • sharon DiGenova Posted on January 10, 2011 at 1:44 pm

      I’ll be there shouldering with you

  4. Lindsay Posted on January 10, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    First of all, I wish to echo the sentiments of the posters above. Thank you for being strong enough to take on this part of the fight.
    Secondly, the part that sticks in my mind about your story is the worker who admitted having nightmares. I wonder if these people realize they deserve worse than smthg that ends as soon as they wake up? They could walk away, choose not to do that for a living, but there they are…

    • David Regan Posted on January 11, 2011 at 11:58 pm

      Slaughterhouse employees are no more culpable for the violence they do than supermarket employees, or restaurant employees, or anyone who uses animal products. I.e. our neighbours, friends, family members. They, too, could walk away, but there they are, keeping slaughterhouses in business — and comfortably removed from the consequences of their consumer choices. Before lashing out at slaughterhouse employees, I think we should look closer to home — and we should keep in mind that these employees often do not, in fact, have a plethora of employment options available to them.

  5. Margaret Sheridan Posted on January 10, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    God bless you Gwen. Can’t imagine the pain you witness every day. It’s hard to believe that people are still willing to let this go on, given that it’s pretty well public knowledge. All part of the selfish culture we live in and their inability to give up meat. How can that meat give sustenance when it is tainted with such sadness.

  6. Marie-Lynn Posted on January 10, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    Gwen, I too was moved to tears by your account. I know where that slaughterhouse is. I now live north of TO or I would offer to join you. Have been vegetarian (currently almost vegan)for 35 yrs and am glad that vegetarianism seems to be on the increase. But not fast enough, sadly, and I doubt we’ll ever make a serious dent in our sicko carnivorous culture that turns a blind eye to how its food is produced. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you’re doing.

  7. june taylor Posted on January 11, 2011 at 5:39 am

    Tears of sadness..Tears of joy…I am numb…we are “kindred spirits” for all animals on their plight to be as intended on Earth: free…we will be the voices for the “defenseless”…I have “hope” for “change”…xo

  8. Kirsten Dulmage Posted on January 11, 2011 at 2:27 pm


    As I read your story…the tears are present. Your are a strong powerful, kind, women…the words are endless. I would love to join you on your visits if you still are doing them. I always want to do more. You have inspired me…and it feels good to hear stories like yours…thankyou for sharing your life.

  9. Barry Bedford Posted on January 11, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    Gwe, I commend you for having the ability to do what so few of us can. I am a vegetarian but do not believe I could stand outside the slaughterhouse knowing what is going on inside. I admit to that cowardice on my part. I have so much respect for you. You are an incredible woman. If I can be of any assistance to you in this, please do not hesitate to contact me. I live east of the city but will assist in any way possible. Again, you are remarkable.

  10. Vanessa Posted on January 12, 2011 at 2:07 am

    Bless your soul, Gwen. Bless the souls of the countless animals that you stand vigil for.
    Please let me know if you want company. I don’t know how much I could endure, but I know it is nothing compared to what the pigs have to – what you have had to.

    • torontopigsave Posted on January 12, 2011 at 8:56 pm

      Hi Vanessa, Please email us at the Contact Us page.

  11. Kelly Posted on January 12, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    I want to join you. How can I contact you?

  12. Laura Posted on January 12, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    You’re a true giver to these beautiful beings. It’s wonderful to know that amidst all that brutal mysogyny you’re there to stand witness for them at the end.

    If you ever need to plug in after all that giving–we’ll get a vegan gal pal dinner together!!! :-)

  13. Caroline Posted on January 12, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    Gwen, I need to join you the soonest. Let me know how to get in touch with you..

    Thanks in advance

    • torontopigsave Posted on January 12, 2011 at 8:55 pm

      Hi Caroline, Please email me at the Contact Us page.

  14. Caitlin Black Posted on January 12, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Thank you for your efforts. This is a wonderful statement to be making.

  15. Lynne Posted on January 13, 2011 at 1:56 am

    I really admire your bravery in facing such horror to try to save these beautiful creatures from the terrible suffering they endure. The height of human selfishness is hacking animals to death because you enjoy the taste of their flesh.

  16. Sue Coe Posted on January 14, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    Gwen, witnessing without power, as you are doing, creates the power to change everything. People say they do not want to go into a slaughterhouse or see how food gets to their plate, because ‘they cannot change anything’ and that is the problem. Just to put yourself in that position of witnessing the end of these beautiful and intelligent and curious creatures lives, changes those workers, who whip and electrocute the sows into the moving into the slaughterhouse. It changes the dynamic and the power relationship of those men, it exposes the normalcy and societal acceptance of mass murder. It provides an outlet for all the passers by, who know this is wrong and want to communicate with another about it. And who knows? some of the sows may see you, and feel a moment of safety.

  17. Krissa Dutton-Schandelmaier Posted on January 18, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Oh, Gwen…. I have been sitting here staring at my computer screen, writing what turns out to be not nearly what I want to say, erasing it, staring over, erasing…. If I lived near you I would definitely join you, but I don’t live near you. However, I am going to find out if there are any slaughterhouses near where I live (Berlin, Germany – I am sure there are) and I am going to have my own vigil. My husband is German and I’m American so I will have to get him to come with me in case there’s problems, but I am sure he will. I have no idea how I will get through it, but knowing that you are doing this …. words just fail me. I do meditations every day and I am going to include you and those who you stand vigil for. Your example has deeply, deeply touched me.

    • Krissa Posted on January 19, 2011 at 2:12 pm

      As it turns out, for too many reasons to list here, I will not be able to hold vigil at a slaughterhouse, however Berlin is the capital of ‘animal’ research in the EU and I most certainly am going to hold vigil outside whatever lab/s I can find. There are many. It won’t be hard. Thank you for your example. Today, I dedicated my entire meditations to you and those you hold vigil for. I will always remember you, them and what you are doing – and what they are enduring.

  18. Jenny Copley-Forster Posted on February 15, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Gwen you are an inspiration. Thank you for your courage and for being there for the pigs. I inspected abattoirs for many years as an Animal Welfare Inspector and my heart breaks every day thinking about what happens to pigs the world over. You will be in my daily prayers and thoughts from now on. God bless you and your work!

  19. zelda nista Posted on February 24, 2011 at 12:59 am

    I’m always walking with my dog Z for public awareness against Breed Specific Legislation in Toronto. If I see you we will stop for a while & join you. A great thing you are doing! I think more may join if they knew you were out there.

  20. Evva Posted on March 23, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    Gwen… I’m somewhat at a loss for words. What a beautiful thing you are doing. I’d love to join you but I don’t think I could handle all the sounds of the torture. I’d end up in jail. As in, I’d do more than I “legally” can to harm the process.
    I hope the animals can at least somehow feel your love.

  21. Christine Lever Posted on April 3, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Hello Gwen,

    I’ve listed the contact details for Quality Meats on my FB page and have asked people to call them and tell them (politely) how they feel; how pigs feel pain, fear, etc. I think we should work together to find out a list of companies that Quality supplies and contact them. We have to make all concerned realized that this is not acceptable on so many levels. If they feel that it’s hitting their bottom line, they’ll listen.

    I’m going to look for contact details for Temple Grandin. A big name with big credentials might do something to help the situation.

    There is no need for any of this to continue. Appalling.

    A friend shared your blog post with me. I’ll do everything I can to help you. Please feel free to contact me at my email address.


    • torontopigsave Posted on April 27, 2011 at 9:37 pm

      Thanks Christine. Please join our FB group too: listed as Toronto Pig Save.

  22. Angela Salewsky Posted on April 23, 2011 at 2:52 am

    Hi Gwen,

    Are you still doing this vigil? I’m sure we could organize a group to also participate and create awareness and possibly get some media coverage.

  23. Laura Posted on May 17, 2011 at 9:58 pm


    Thank you so much for your compassion and courage. I have been blessed to care for two elder big pigs, whom I rescued as piglets. Please know that you are supported and loved for your devotion, empathy, and passion.
    Laura, Keagan, and Sebastian

  24. Campbellina Posted on May 18, 2011 at 12:57 am

    I saw a pig truck on the highway into the city today and felt distressed because I didn’t know – only suspected – what was about to happen to the creatures whose kin I’d admired at Riverdale Farm only a few days ago… You have confirmed for me what lies in store for them and now that I really know, I can’t pretend I don’t. We do eat meat in our family, but I am going to research where it comes from (and how the animals were treated) before buying again. You sound like such a loving person to take up this cause and I just wanted to ‘drop in’ to say as much.

    Thank you,

  25. Taya C Posted on June 9, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Absolutely amazing!

    I walk by there from Liberty Village to get to work and it’s brought me to tears so many mornings. There’s such a feeling of hopelessness around it so to read that someone is taking such a stand is incredible. If there is anything I can do to help you please let me know.

  26. Maria Posted on June 9, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    I live in the area – and actually on my way home from work happen to drive along side the truck that is on it’s way there – it breaks my heart as I drive right beside these poor animals – not knowing what is going through their mind – I think to myself “do they know what’s going on” – I take my dog to the park across the street and my heart breaks as I see these trucks roll in – I would like to help out in any way that I can

    You are an amazing woman for taking such a stand!

  27. Evva Posted on June 13, 2011 at 3:53 pm


    Animal lovers worldwide now have access to more than a decade’s worth of evidence showing that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) kills thousands of defenseless pets at its Virginia headquarters. Since 1998, PETA has opted to “put down” 25,840 adoptable dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens instead of finding them “forever homes.”

    PETA’s “Animal Record” report for 2010, which the animal rights group itself filed with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, shows that PETA employees killed 94 percent of the dogs and cats in their care last year. During all of 2010, PETA found adoptive homes for just 44 pets.

    Just 44 dogs and cats—out of the 2,345 PETA took in. Those numbers are abysmal, and they and offer little hope for homeless animals to escape perishing on PETA’s version of “death row.”

    • torontopigsave Posted on June 13, 2011 at 4:43 pm

      Thank you Louise for your thoughtful response. The above PETA attack looks like part of a smear campaign and, yes, front groups are set up/ astroturf and others by PR companies hired by exploitative industries. The comment above from Evva makes no mention of the millions of pigs killed at slaughterhouses (trying to deflect from the focus of our group) and what all of us can do through advocacy and other activities to contribute to a more humane and compassionate world through our diet.

    • Evva Posted on June 13, 2011 at 4:59 pm

      all i did was share a link and an excerpt from that link…. no attack… no personal comments… just the facts on peta as that site sees them.

    • torontopigsave Posted on June 13, 2011 at 5:05 pm

      Is this an industry website, posing as a site with “facts”? If you scroll down that website it smears the celebrities that support PETA’s work,etc. Perhaps we can do an expose of this website you provided and see who is behind it — might it be the animal exploiters trying to defame animal rights NGOs?

  28. torontopigsave Posted on June 13, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    Is this an industry website, posing as a site with “facts”? If you scroll down that website it smears the celebrities that support PETA’s work,etc. Perhaps we can do an expose of this website you provided and see who is behind it — might it be the animal exploiters trying to defame animal rights NGOs?

    • Evva Posted on June 13, 2011 at 5:13 pm

      peta supports our seal hunt. they are for breed specific legislation.

      here are someone else’s thoughts on peta…


      • torontopigsave Posted on June 13, 2011 at 5:42 pm

        Thanks for that link Evva… This article by this extreme right wing news source Canada Free Press notes: “The Center for Consumer Freedom has created PetaKillsAnimals.com” the website you started this discussion with.

        Well, guess what? The Centre for Consumer Freedom is a front group for tobacco, alcohol and food industries created by a PR company called Berman and Co. It has also launched campaigns funded by Phillip Morris to promote smoking, against MADD – Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and against groups trying to stop animal testing.

        Read an expose of the Centre for Consumer Freedom at SourceWatch:

        This is a list of some of the groups it has targeted:

        Animal rights/animal testing/vegetarian

        EarthSave International
        Farm Animal Reform Movement (FARM)
        Farm Sanctuary
        Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)
        People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
        Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)
        Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) (See also Huntingdon Life Sciences)
        United Poultry Concerns


        Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
        National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA)


        Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)


        Earth First!
        Environmental Media Services
        Environmental Working Group
        Greenpeace USA
        Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
        Waterkeeper Alliance
        Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

        Food safety

        Center for Food Safety (CFS)
        Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)
        Chefs Collaborative
        Mothers for Natural Law
        Organic Consumers Association

        News & media

        Center for Media & Democracy, the publisher of PR Watch
        Sustainable Agriculture/Family Farming
        American Corn Growers Association
        Dakota Resource Council
        Dakota Rural Action
        Idaho Rural Council
        Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
        Northern Plains Resource Council
        Powder River Basin Resource Council
        Turning Point Project
        Western Organization of Resource Councils

        That’s why it is important to do research, before believing any website that smears NGOs, as Louise says.

  29. Evva Posted on June 13, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    thank you for informing me peta has changed their position on the seal hunt. however, i personally (who happens to be a vegan) do not like peta. others have similar feelings. all i wanted to do was share some information.

    • torontopigsave Posted on June 13, 2011 at 5:46 pm

      It is fine sharing information, but not false info from smear campaigns. The Center for Consumer Freedom created PetaKillsAnimals.com” and it is a front group for tobacco, alcohol and food industries created by a PR company called Berman and Co.It has tried to smear Farm Sanctuary, PCRM and other animal rights groups. So that’s not sharing info, that’s spreading info from animal exploiting industries trying to divide and conquer the animal protection movement.

      Read an expose of the Centre for Consumer Freedom at SourceWatch:

      • torontopigsave Posted on June 14, 2011 at 10:21 am

        Also, please read this other sourcewatch report on Berman and Co – the PR company hired by Centre for Consumer Freedom and makers of the Petakills website and petition calling for it to lose its tax nonprofit status (ironies of ironies, the Centre for Consumer Freedom is an industry front group which also has that “nonprofit” tax exempt status, even though it represents special interests and not the public interest).

        Here’s the excellent expose of the industry group attacking PETA, the Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM), Farm Sanctuary and other groups in the animal protection movement:
        Richard Berman cares about animals: clients exposed

        Here’s a good article on Berman Exposed:

        Also, this FB site summarizes the various exposes of Berman and Co. Please join it!

        It’s important for us all to learn more about these industry front group and write exposes. Let’s unmask the work of the animal exploitation industries in trying to divide and conquer and let’s not let them detract us from shining the spotlight on factory farms, transport trucks, and slaughterhouses. They will not succeed in the end, b/e compassionate people do organize in groups and work individually as part of a large animal rights movement and appreciate the value of unity and trying to get everyone on board..

  30. Evva Posted on June 24, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Still killing after all these years: Five years after PETA’s Piggly Wiggly dumpster incident

    June 19, 2010 12:26 am ET


    • torontopigsave Posted on June 25, 2011 at 8:45 pm

      again, Evva follow the money. Not one of your posts does anything to shed light on the Monsanto funded front group that set up the petakills website. If you really care about animal rights, why don’t you do any investigative research on the big animal exploiters and their front groups… not a word from you yet on this front group (do you like this industry front group?)

      • Evva Posted on June 28, 2011 at 4:34 am

        i didn’t realize i was expected to provide my opinion on the front groups you bring up. any front group sucks. it’s a front… i.e. dishonest. but i’m not convinced that peta’s criticisms come from only front groups. you can look at peta’s own reports.

    • Evva Posted on June 28, 2011 at 4:29 am

      it references reports and the like, no?

      and i am involved in helping animals in many ways. i have no desire to do anything for peta anymore. i did in the past.

  31. louise webber Posted on August 2, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    If Gwen is still holding her vigils, I would like to speak to her. I shall be travelling to T.O. in October and perhaps I could join her to offer support.

  32. torontopigsave Posted on August 2, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    Toronto Pig Save is regularly bearing witness 3x a week at Strachan and Lakeshore from 8 -10 a.m. where the transport trucks turn towards the slaughterhouse, and then at 677 Wellington from 10-11 am where the pigs are unloaded with rattle paddles and electric prods. Please join our FB group for info on times of protests each week.

  33. [...] TPS has information sheets to systematically document any possible violations of animal cruelty laws and codes you witness. The information sheets are posted on our website here:http://torontopigsave.wordpress.com/slaughterhouse-vigil/ [...]

  34. be healthy|food diet|cleanse|detox Posted on January 15, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    You can definitely see your skills in the work you write. The arena hopes for more passionate writers such as you who aren’t afraid to mention how they believe. At all times go after your heart.

  35. Shar Posted on January 19, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    WOW beautifully written and shared Gwen, right from the heart. THANK U for sharing and inspiring – You, Anita (Mr.Bean!) and ALL the AMAAZING ppl @ TPS (I’m blessed to be a member) are AWESOME!!! Much blessings to all xo

  36. Ian Posted on January 27, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    Humans are hypocrites!

    There are laws condemning animal abuse, but what they fail to notice is that cows, chickens, and pigs are abused every single day inside slaughterhouses. But of course, they don’t care, because the meat industries are profiting from all this abuse. If they make good money to support the economy, and if the vast majority of the public love eating meat, then the government wouldn’t give a shit about how badly they are treated.

  37. Ian Posted on January 27, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    Gwen you are far above most other human beings! And I’m saying this as a fact!

  38. evva Posted on January 28, 2012 at 3:12 am


  39. This is The TOP Dog rescue shelter Posted on February 1, 2012 at 10:39 am

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  40. here Posted on May 23, 2012 at 8:33 pm

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  41. Toronto Pig Save Posted on October 20, 2012 at 11:30 am

    [...] Bear witness at vigils [...]

  42. Keri Posted on October 23, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    I am a vegetarian and I really want to help. The pig truks pass by me several times a day as I walk to and from work. I have posted notes on Facebook about reducing pork consumption — some people have been supportive and others made rude comments and were ‘unfriended’ by me immediately. My problem is that I am extremely empathetic and emotional. So looking at images of abuse to animals and discussing it with others brings me to tears and it’s hard for me to get out of that funk all day. Is there anything that I can do to support without having to undergo that kind of emotional pain?

    • jaime Posted on February 5, 2013 at 8:05 pm

      i can completely identify with the pain! i take comfort in knowing that i am making the necessary effort to do what is right for these animals, for the environment, and for ourselves. when i focus on that, i can do what i do. i don’t need to look at any more videos to remind me of what is going on. the fact is that what is happening is wrong, and it’s a good thing that we have feelings. if we were indifferent…there would be no hope.

  43. Clare Gill Posted on October 23, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    Deep bows to you Gwen

    From Clare in Ireland.

  44. tabuism Posted on November 18, 2012 at 9:38 am

    Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.

    ~ Buddha

  45. Vegan BLT giveaway during holiday season « Toronto Pig Save Posted on January 20, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    [...] Events: Bear witness at vigils [...]

  46. Other Events | Michael Lanfield Posted on February 4, 2013 at 1:59 am

    [...] Ongoing Events Toronto Pig Save – Weekly Vigils to Bear [...]

  47. […] More videos and information about the vigils are available here. […]

  48. […] More videos and information about the vigils are available here. […]

  49. […] Events: Bear witness at vigils […]

  50. hari Posted on July 16, 2013 at 4:39 am

    Bless you and your efforts. I wish I was near Toronto so I could also help out

  51. Natalie Posted on August 26, 2013 at 1:56 am

    Hello. I want to thank you for all that you do, wonderful job. Keep spreading the word. I mentioned you guys in a blog post, thought I would share.. http://fruitandfamily.wordpress.com/ Thank you again. Natalie

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