Activists cancel Chilliwack rodeo protest, claim to have received threats of violence

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Calf roping at the 2016 Chilliwack Fair rodeo Photo VHS

The Fraser Valley Animal Rights Association (FVARA) has cancelled its protest against rodeo events at the Chilliwack Fair.

In a statement, organizers say they have received “multiple threats of violence” against the upcoming protest and word of a planned counter-protest by anti-immigrant group Soldiers of Odin.

“Our peaceful demonstration against the rodeo was intended to start a dialogue, raise awareness of animal cruelty, and spread a message of compassion,” the statement reads.”Although we continue to passionately oppose the rodeo, it has become clear that this protest will not generate the peaceful dialogue we hope to engage in, and we cannot encourage anyone to put their safety at risk.”

This year marks the 30th annual rodeo at the Chilliwack Fair but the event has drawn criticism from actress, model and animal rights activist Pamela Anderson and the Vancouver Humane Society (VHS).

“It’s shameful that they have been denied the right to peaceful protest because of this intimidation and threats of violence,” says VHS spokesperson Peter Fricker.

VHS is campaigning for the end of calf-roping, steer-wrestling and team-roping. “We think it’s clear that the animals are being subjected to fear, pain and stress all for the sake of entertainment. That’s just unethical.”

The Chilliwack Fair has created a petition to support its “right” to host an annual rodeo as a direct response to the VHS campaign that has garnered about 1,000 signatures.

This year marks the 30th rodeo hosted by the Chilliwack Rodeo Association at the 146th annual Chilliwack Fair.

On the petition page, the Chilliwack Fair writes that the rodeo has an “excellent safety record and meets or exceeds all British Columbia Rodeo Association rules and regulations.”

“It is the first rodeo in B.C. to implement the new ‘Calgary Rules’ to protect animals. In 2018 the City of Chilliwack built a new $100,000 rodeo arena with state of the art chutes and stalls to further improve safety for livestock and people,” the statement reads.

The protest was originally scheduled for August 12 from 12:30 to 3 p.m.

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Melissa is a reporter at Vancouver Is Awesome and has worked primarily in radio and online media. She grew up in Ontario, went to school in Halifax and worked in Northern B.C. before moving to Vancouver. If you've got a story to share email: melissa@vancouverisawesome.com