Tag Archives: “Ontario Livestock Exchange”

To Market, To Market…..


To market, to market, to buy a fat pig,
Home again, home again, dancing a jig;
To market, to market, to buy a fat hog;
Home again, home again, jiggety-jog;
To market, to market, to buy a plum bun,
Home again, home again, market is done. ~Nursery Rhyme


Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

The St. Jacob’s Market resides on the same premises as the Ontario Livestock Exchange (OLEX). The dichotomy between the ways of the Mennonite farmers (the market is in the middle of the largest Mennonite population in Ontario) and our modern lifestyle is evident everywhere in the market.

On the days that I’ve visited, there are always tourist buses in the parking lot. The market, and the Village of St. Jacob’s shops a short distance away are a popular tourist destination, especially for those wanting clothing, rustic crafts, summer sausage, apple fritters, and other prepared foods catering to food tourists. Tourists also enjoy photographing the locals in the long, plain dress of the Anabaptists.

Not only is the market a contrast between old and new, it’s a contrast in the modern versus biblical view that animals fall under the dominion of man for his exclusive use, and that they therefore don’t reason, they don’t feel, nor do they form social bonds. Anabaptists are traditionally pacifists and separatists, yet they often treat their animals as a cash crop, particularly in the example of puppy mills,  which are common within Mennonite and Amish communities. Their buggy horses are often angular and very worn looking, and in October, OLEX will see many buggy horses at auction that the Mennonites don’t want to feed over winter. Clearly, arbitrarily assigning animals rights (or in this case, lack of) by citing religious traditions is flawed.
When the Cows Come HomeWe think that the days when Rene Descartes saw animals as irrational beings lacking in consciousness are ancient history, but in the livestock area of the market, animals are still treated as having no physical, emotional , or social needs. The food and craft areas of the market are very busy and full of bright colours – vegetables, clothing, jams etc. but the livestock market building is deplorable and hopeless, filled with stressed farm animals and horses,  many of them stereotypically pacing in their pens. Here many of the animals are often very overcrowded and placed with others who were not formerly part of their social group. It’s profoundly at odds with herd animals’ nature to be closely penned or penned with other strange animals with whom they have no social hierarchy. Close to the end of the day, before they are to be picked up by kill buyers, the cows and bulls are herded into one pen, and there they appear even more stressed – bulls mount cows and other disagreements ensue.

Most people from the market area or the Village of St. Jacob’s don’t venture anywhere near the livestock building, and they likely wouldn’t cross the “biosecurity” warnings on the doors, especially if they have their cherished family dog with them. Unlike in the tourist areas, pictures are not welcome here, because no one wants the outside world to see the dire conditions that exist for the animals. This is why activists and those with smartphones aren’t welcome in the OLEX building.

While the people bringing horses and other animals to the auction are to blame along with some of the handlers who occasionally hit the animals, the consumer is also to blame in this abysmal system. Yet the consumers don’t come into this building, because they don’t want to be made aware of the atrocities committed here and they certainly don’t want to be made to think about where the majority of these animals are going after the market closes for the day.

What the Tourists See…


The Livestock Market at OLEX…Out-Of-Sight and Out-Of-Mind For Most Everyone



And a Happy Resolution for Two OLEX Mares…

Sold to a kill buyer,  they landed at NYNE (Need You Now Equine).  There are no words to describe groups like NYNE,  who do not rescue horses in the orthodox sense,  but sell them off kill buyer lots for a profit.  Nevertheless,  these two mares,  bonded as you can see in the kill pen in a photograph taken in August,  are shown in the second photo at NYNE being offered for sale for $1,200 apiece.  Finally,  an update was posted on Facebook advising that they have evaded slaughter and were placed into a new home.



Full Monty or Foolhardy?


larry_the_cable_guy_health_inspector_xlgWritten By:  Heather Clemenceau

First of all, let me give a hat tip to Denise, for finding this article.  You gotta wonder what kind of Google Alerts she has set up for this……

It seems that a CFIA inspector-by-day has become the “superman of community theatre” by night, working in the St. Jacobs community near Waterloo Ontario.  Graham Duench is a CFIA inspector who enjoys community theatre not for the money,  but for the passion.  Fair enough.  To add to that passion, he’s about to reveal a whole new side of himself that, until now,  has remained buried under his strict devotion to justice for animals and duty to maintaining the high standards of the Canadian agriculture industry.

Graham is about to add “stripper” to his resumé. He won’t however, reveal exactly how exposed he’s going to be in the upcoming K-W Musical Productions’ The Full Monty — The Musical, which opens at St. Jacobs Country Playhouse on February 13, 2014,  running through to the 22nd.

The Full Monty — The Musical is based on the 1997 British film The Full Monty, where the protagonist and his misfit buddies decide the only way to make some quick money is stage a Chippendale’s type male strip show.

Talk about moonlighting. I realize that it’s not like he’s moonlighting as a male escort or entertaining at bachelorette parties, but you’ve got to wonder why someone who has a “professional” position with the government would want to risk that by taking on an evening job with nudity and lots of sexual innuendo.

It’s not exactly Masterpiece Theatre.Donna+Summer+-+Hot+Stuff+-+Red+Vinyl+-+12'+RECORD_MAXI+SINGLE-26348

Ironically, the playhouse is about 7km down the street from the Ontario Livestock Exchange (OLEX),  where from time to time,  CFIA inspectors can be found measuring the height of trailers over a horse’s withers,  and checking to see whether kill buyers have loaded their trailers with shod horses.  But more often than not, horses get transported in double-decker trailers under the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s nose and with their blessing.

But the potential for conflict of interest gets interesting.

Mercedes Corp., is a property management company that developed a number of tourism attractions in the village of St. Jacobs,  including the playhouse. The company also owns the St. Jacobs Farmers Market, Waterlive showloo Farmers Market, The  Ontario Livestock Exchange and St. Jacobs stockyards as well as seven other rental and retail properties in the village. That’s right – the same firm that owns the playhouse where Graham Duench is performing (albeit short term) also owns the very places that the CFIA is inspecting for compliance under the Health of Animals Regulations  The same places that Animals’ Angels has also inspected in the past and found issues not only with OLEX but other Ontario auctions under the jurisdiction of the CFIA – problems that seem obvious to everyone except the people employed at the auctions.

Mercedes Corp. also owns retirement homes in the region and several other towns.  Seriously, who the hell in their right mind would want to retire or place a family member at a facility that also owns livestock markets that supply slaughterhouses? The gross-out factor is just unavoidable.

I’m not sure that anything embarrasses the CFIA anymore.  Certainly,  it doesn’t seem to faze them when they’re caught “pants down” in a bare-faced lie.  I’m wondering if we’re approaching the wrong people at the CFIA?  Maybe we’d get better results if we paid $35 bucks to get a seat at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse, and then rolled out a large protest sign requesting CFIA response to our outstanding issues?

Will To Win


JLC Jenn

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

For hundreds of years, the horse has been recognized as one of nature’s strongest and most noble animals.  Throughout history, horses have carried generals across miles of war zone, led armies into countless battles, and survived with their riders against unbeatable odds.   Although modern technology removed the need for horses to go into battle, some horses have found other jobs in the barn rather than on the battlefield.  Many horses have a personality that inspires solace.  They are large flight animals but they choose to stand beside us.  When you are making an internal life transition, being in the presence of horses can be an incentive to embrace change.

Why do some bounce back from major and minor losses more quickly than others?  One of the main factors in building resilience is to connect with a purpose that is larger than you yourself.  Having a goal beyond the present, often one such as starting a foundation or taking care of an animal, can be the impetus that helps one grow in resiliency.

horse medalsJennifer Cutting started Justice Love ‘n Care Animal Rescue,  in June 2012, after realizing that most horses at a local auction went to slaughter rather than finding homes. Since then, 31 horses, 2 donkeys, a sheep, a duck, and a pot bellied pig have come to JLC, have been rehabilitated, and most rehomed.  JLC  volunteers include children, youth, and adults, people from very diverse backgrounds and experiences. There are no paid staff, and everyone donates their time and resources.

Jennifer and the rescue are enrolled in the Aviva Community Fund program, as they are now ready to move onto their next project  – the W.I.N.N.E.R. Program for at-risk youth, ages 12-25. Securing funds via the Aviva program will mean that the rescue can hire two full-time staff. Their  vision is to offer an Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Equine Assisted Learning Program (EAGALA), which also includes programs for art and nature,  which encourage creativity,  environmental stewardship,  and an appreciation for life and nature. Equine assisted learning (EAL) takes place from the ground, with no riding involved.  Youth would be encouraged by an EAL leader, through a series of activities with the greatest teacher, their horse. The entire program promotes self- awareness, problem solving skills, empathy, compassion, and an awareness of body language, along with many other characteristics.  The EAGALA program (along with a mental health professional and equine specialist) is designed to address specific goals for the participants,  so that youth will have key “take-away” experiences that can help them to make lifelong changes,  all while adhering to a specific code of ethics.

The JLC W.I.N.N.E.R. acronym stands for:

be Well,
get Inspired,
find New opportunities and ideas.
feel Empowered,
Reach out & Share Change with your community

Jennifer plans to become a certified instructor through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH, Int.) to teach at-risk youth how to interact with horses in unmounted activities. In addition, Jennifer’s husband Trevor is a natural environment technician who has training for wilderness life skills, plant and tree identification,  wildlife observation,  as well as surveying and survival skills.

Broker sponsored newspaper ad

Aviva Insurance Broker ad taken out for Justice Love ‘n Care

“I have worked with youth in group homes, in a youth detention centre, as well as with women in federal prison,” says Jennifer, who currently works as a community facilitator with people who have acquired brain injuries.  While volunteering at the prison, Jennifer was part of a healing circle, as well as the community integration team with the Canadian Mental Health Association.  She developed a group that was approved by Corrections Canada called LAM – “Looking After Me.”  LAM’s focus included establishing healthy relationships, reaching one’s dreams with a realistic plan with small steps, finding supports, budgeting, volunteering and giving back to the community, understanding triggers for different feelings and behaviours,  and maintaining physical health via nutrition and exercise.

The milestones have not stopped.

Jennifer also wants to create awareness of the horrific horse slaughter industry – a morass of cruelty and corruption – where animals that are unfit for human consumption and never designed to be part of the food chain are slaughtered mostly for export from Canada.  To that end, she diligently attended the Ontario Livestock Exchange auctions (OLEX) in Waterloo, Ontario most weeks for several months and began gathering statistics that showed who was buying these horses and other animals, and what breeds were either being rehomed or sold to kill buyers and sent to slaughter.  Minis, standardbreds, drafts, arabs, quarter horses, haflingers , fjords,  paints, donkeys, llamas and alpacas are all sold at OLEX – an auction where many weanlings and yearlings are also sold and,  according to her stats,  roughly 50-80% of all the equines go to slaughter.  Sadly,  Jenn has made note of quite a few “meat only” horses,  including mares heavy in foal.  Baby colts are often sold for $5 to kill buyers,  who sell them to slaughterhouses.   She has become well known for these very-detailed statistics that also capture the average prices for horses that are sold every week.

poppy and jazz

Poppy and Jazz were adopted in the most serendipitous way! One Saturday, a woman by the name of Sandra called. She knew these girls. They used to belong to a friend of hers named Judy. Several years ago Judy was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. Judy fought for her life, and even went to Mexico for treatment in hopes of being cured. Judy died from this horrible disease. Before she left his world, Sandra promised Judy to find a home for her beloved donkeys. Friends of Judy said that she felt relieved her donkeys would be safe. That was her biggest concern before she passed away. Sandra did find a home, but there was only a verbal contract. The new family was not able to keep the donkeys any longer. They were sold to a couple who ended up sending them to auction at OLEX.
At first Sandra cried tears of sadness for what Poppy and Jazz have been through together- moved, separated previously for a few weeks due to an emergency with Poppy. Now she is excited and happy- to keep a promise.
Sandra explained that it was a fluke that she was on Kijiji. Her pony had just passed away a few days before, and she was looking on Kijiji. Her pony passed- giving the gift of two lives. Yes Judy, if you are looking down from above, your girls are safe. They are now at their true forever home.

Jennifer is in the process of applying for her non-profit status, and once that has been approved, she will apply for charitable status – part of the requirements for registering as a charity with the Canada Revenue Agency requires the creation of Guiding Principles:

JLC Guiding Principles (in development)

Our W.I.N.N.E.R. program for Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Learning shall be guided by our desire to instill confidence in clients, while ensuring safety, by maintaining the highest standards of ethics and integrity.  We will honour the dignity of the client in a respectful manner, always preserving their privacy and confidentiality.  We will constantly evaluate our program and the progress of our clients and will refer them to other professional services if and when this is in the best interest of the participant.  The W.I.N.N.E.R. program will be a place where all views, ideas, and opinions shall be respected.  We will promote the development of programs that serve challenged persons and educate the public about equines.  We will endeavour to facilitate the re-homing of equines that would otherwise be abused, neglected, or sold to meat dealers.  We will safely match both program participants with horses as well as screen and match foster homes and adopters when considering homes for the horses.  We shall adhere to all provincial and federal laws and will always strive to improve our professional strengths.

In some ways you could say that Jennifer’s program to help youth and horses was made easier by the difficult road to get there.  Jennifer felt helpless throughout her grade school and high school education as a result of being bullied for years until she finally moved away.  Today, she advocates that bullying be addressed in schools or workplaces, and on the internet.  Some of her worst bullying experiences happened in places where children and young adults are supposed to be protected.  “That is part of the reason I went into Social Services – to help people find empowerment and to better themselves regardless of obstacles or the actions of others.  And that’s why I really want to start the W.I.N.N.E.R. Program for At-Risk Youth. “AVIVA

Jennifer has also had some recent setbacks while promoting the Aviva Community Fund and her rescue,  when Facebook deleted several of the groups she was using for networking – completely wiping out her base of friends and associates who were all voting for the rescue.  Jennifer is,  however,  well practiced at prioritizing stressors in her life – while she is competing for the AVIVA Community Fund,  she is also in the midst of a move.

Through the soft nicker of a horse,at-risk youth can find healing at the barn. Although the horses can offer us immeasurable therapeutic benefits, programs wouldn’t survive without the dedication and support of the volunteers at JLC, who are gratefully acknowledged.

Competition for the Aviva Community Fund is fierce.  Please help this rescue by voting everyday through to November 4th.

JLC volunteers

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
  ~ Maya Angelou