British Columbia

Animal rights activists arrested after chaining themselves to Kelowna credit union doors

Seven animal rights activists were arrested on charges of mischief after they locked themselves to the front doors of a Kelowna credit union Monday morning, refusing to leave until the company stop sponsoring the meat-themed event Ribfest.

Protesters demand Interior Savings stop sponsoring Ribfest event

Seven animal rights activists were arrested in Kelowna on Monday after they chained themselves to the front doors of an Interior Savings credit union branch in protest of the bank’s sponsorship of Ribfest (Brady Strachan/CBC)

RCMP officers used a pair of large bolt cutters to remove chains that animal rights activists had attached to the front doors of a credit union in Kelowna, B.C., Monday morning after the protesters refused to leave the area.

Seven women locked themselves to the doors of Interior Savings earlier in the day to protest the bank's sponsorship of a meat-themed event called Ribfest, which is held in several B.C. communities each summer.

The activists were joined by about a dozen other protesters holding signs calling for the credit union to stop supporting the event, and an end to animal cruelty.

"Other banks are supporting things like MS and Pride whereas Interior Savings is funding a completely socially irresponsible event for the animals and for climate change," said activist Tessa Gordey, who co-owns a Kelowna vegan restaurant.

"Eating meat is turning more socially irresponsible. Everybody is really starting to see what is going on inside the [hog] farms."

Members of the RCMP arranged for a meeting between the credit union and two of the protesters mid-morning.

After the meeting failed to resolve the situation police officers warned the activists they would be arrested if they refused to clear themselves from the bank's entrance doors.

"I mediated this the best I could and have come to the conclusion that it wasn't going to change and they told me that they weren't going to leave, so I made the decision to forcibly remove them," said Sgt. Greg Woodcox.

"Everybody was peaceful and really good to deal with."

The protesters moved from the bank's doors at the direction of the RCMP after officers cut the chains holding them in place. 

About a dozen protesters joined the activists chained to the doors of the Interior Savings branch demanding the bank stop sponsoring the meat-themed Ribfest events held in communities across B.C. (Brady Strachan/CBC)

Woodcox said the seven women will be released from custody today and will each face a possible charge of mischief.

Activist Amy Soranno said she was disappointed as officers led her toward to a police van.

"We will keep escalating our actions until they stop sponsorship," she said.

"We are facing a climate emergency right now. The animals are facing a serious emergency."

In April, Soranno was one of dozens of activists who entered a pig farm in Abbotsford for several hours until they were escorted out by police officers.

In a statement, Interior Savings said it met with the protestors to hear their concerns about the sponsorship of Ribfest.

"Interior Savings remains committed to supporting top-notch community events that raise tens of thousands of dollars for those in our community who need a helping hand," wrote community engagement manager Corine Johnson.



Brady Strachan

CBC Reporter

Brady Strachan is a CBC reporter based in Kelowna, B.C. Besides Kelowna, Strachan has covered stories for CBC News in Winnipeg, Brandon, Vancouver and internationally. Follow his tweets @BradyStrachan


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