Vegan Former NHL player and animal advocate, Georges Laraque, used his Facebook and Tweeter feeds to call for a boycott on the Pig Festival that takes place each year in Saint Perpétué, Québec. “This event is to terrorize pigs and boars for use as entertainment. It is one thing to eat meat, but to use poor animals as entertainment and make it an event - that's just disgusting” stated Laraque.
The website of the event posted a reply to Laraque stating that this is a celebration of tradition dating since 1978. They respond that Laraque has no knowledge of what happens at the event because he has never been to it. In a public statement, the Festival spokeswoman, Catherine Boisclair, told QMI Agency that no animals are harmed during the event. "(It's) very unfortunate that Mr. Laraque did not take the time to learn more before publishing such remarks.”
It is very sad that Mrs. Catherine Boisclair, the spokesperson for the event described as one of the Province’s most successful celebrations seems so unaware or unconcerned about the dark side of the festival – the pigs’ side.
The very name -- “Festival du Cochon” or “Pig Festival” -- does not depict the reality that goes on within the Fairgrounds. This is no celebration for pigs. There are just live, terrified, helpless pigs being chased and thrown around – pigs that are all condemned to be slaughtered, just like the dead pigs being eaten around them – once the festive fun is over.
It was in 1977 that the Saint Perpétué Festival took place. The first year, the town’s festival was just volleyball tournaments. There was no pig in the theme of the celebration. According to hearsay that is still being reported, the idea came after one of the members of the town’s committee, a slaughterhouse worker described how difficult it is to catch a pig in the mud while it is raining. An animal had escaped the truck on its way to the slaughterhouse during a rainfall. If this is the origin, then the same discovery has been made in 70,000 different places in the USA, and much earlier that the Saint Perpétué tradition.
Blogger, Kathleen Stachowski, explained that wrestling is a sport contested by two human opponents that are evenly matched and each enters into the pit by their own will. “In matches like pig wrestling, where frightened animals are unwilling participants exploited by teams of humans for entertainment. One specie’s fun is another species' terror. Is it so hard to grasp?"
Pigs are no different from the companion animals that live with humans. According to Unleashed.org.au, “pigs enjoy sunbathing, cooling off with a mud bath, and they form close bonds with each other. In fact, they are very loyal friends.”
Events like the Hog Festival show how humans dissociate themselves from other animals, unaware or unconcerned about their suffering. The urge to subdue and dominate and animal is the same cruelty as when an adult abuses a child (and studies show that the two are correlated).
Vegan animal advocate and Canada Research Chair at Université du Québec à Montréal, Stevan Harnad expressed his opinion about the event:
“I am sure that the people of Saint Perpétué, like decent people everywhere, have hearts, and once their attention is drawn to what their festival looks, and sounds and feels like to its terrified victims, they will find ways to make their Festival of music and entertainment just as enjoyable and memorable without hurting animals. A start would be to bring children to observe pigs living happily and free of harm among their own kind. Who knows, it might even help to make it less likely that any of them will ever grow up to abuse their own children. There is no need to attend such an event (there are over 70,000 clips of pig-wrestling on Youtube) to know that it is terrifying and cruel to helpless and frightened animals to have crowds of people “wrestle” with them. Has Mrs. Bosclair listened to the sounds of the victims while they are being chased and “wrestled”? Do those sound or look like animals that are not being “harmed”? That are having a good time, like the audience and the participants?"
I reached out to the founders of the Montreal animal rights group, Kebek Animal Rights Association, and this is what they had to say about the sadistic event:
"It is no coincidence that this "festival" was founded at a time when factory farms started to dominate and destroy the Quebec landscape. To make a spectacle out of animal torture is a desperate attempt to make the population forget, to laugh off the shame of today's devastating agribusiness. Everyone involved knows very well that the breeding, confining and mass killing of animals is wrong. Going to such great lengths to try and make atrocity look fun won't hide the fact that this is about silencing those in the community that dare to speak up. The motto of this festival is clear: You better accept that pigs are there to exploit just until their last breath in the slaughterhouse. Better accept that the environment is contaminated with manure run-off. And you better get a really loud laugh out of it- or go find yourself new friends in a different village. Laugh, drink, eat pig- but do NOT think!"- Marion Achoulias for KARA.
“I was seven years old when I was dragged to such a “pig-wrestling event." I remember my horror as it if was yesterday. The pig was hurt and screamed in pain while the adults around me-many of them completely drunk- laughed and shouted hysterically. Could they not see the fear in the pig’s face? I thought these people had gone mad! These senseless spectacles of animal cruelty are traumatizing to children and brings out the worst in people. It is time to evolve. " - Marie-Claude Gagné for KARA.
Click on the video to see a compilation of extracts of past Festivals. Try to see it from the victims’ viewpoint, not the festive audience. It is then inescapable to admit that it is torture. At one scene, even the MC of the event says, “it seems the pig is saying please let go of me” and the public just keeps laughing. See how the bodies are thrown into the pit; see how the small piglets run towards the adult pigs, sometimes no doubt their own mothers, looking for protection, and how the human adults go after the little ones because they are the easiest to catch.