It is apt that the word ‘sanctuary’ tends to evoke a sense of sacred space. It has religious roots and is widely understood to mean a place of peace. Today of course, a sanctuary may be anywhere in the world where the vulnerable are provided refuge from preventable harm. And as empathy for the plight of those who suffer injustice expands beyond our own species, sanctuaries for animals are on the rise!
Port Moody-based activist Sarien Savert, co-founder of PEACE (People Ensuring Animal Care Exists), told me recently that she knows of at least 16 farmed animal sanctuaries in British Columbia now. She and her partner, Hugo (photo on the left), have formed their own non-profit to provide assistance to this growing arena of animal advocacy and recently helped facilitate the arrival of a couple of very lucky turkeys to Island Pacifica Animal Sanctuary here on Denman Island. ‘Greta’ and ‘Genesis,’ named after two widely celebrated vegan youths agitating for action on behalf of our climate crisis and the nonhuman animals impacted by our dietary choices, are reportedly settling in nicely. Although spared from human slaughter by their previous caregivers, the turkeys were in immediate danger of falling prey to natural predators that had already killed other members of their former flock. Now they are in the company of new feathered friends where sanctuary owner Cheryl Henkelman can care for them safely.
Island Pacifica Animal Sanctuary is 53 acres of agricultural land that is currently home also to 4 horses, 4 roosters, 9 hens, 12 ducks, 3 cats and 3 dogs. Nine of these animals actually joined Cheryl very recently, following the realization of her longtime dream of operating the farm as a larger scale sanctuary. With over 40 years of experience rescuing neglected and/or abused animals with no other place to go, Cheryl knows that Island Pacifica will need ongoing community
support in order to succeed. There are no other farmed animal sanctuaries north of RASTA (Rescue And Sanctuary for Threatened Animals) in Chemainus on Vancouver Island, and she has had to turn needy animals away due to lack of sufficient housing and other important resources. Such tasks as re-building the hay barn, pig pen, duck and chicken runs are high on the priority list of infrastructure improvements needed. Vet bills and food costs are a constant, of course, as they are for all animal sanctuaries.
As RASTA founder Lucie Cerny states in a recent video, “sanctuaries are not the solution to the animal exploitation crisis and over-population crisis.” She emphasizes that they are an important piece, but that it is education that is key. Part and parcel of that education is unlearning the myths that we have been taught about animals raised as food. Each one values their own life every bit as much as those we already cherish as companion animals. And in a sanctuary setting, animals normally slaughtered at a very young age are allowed to live out their natural lifespans, maintain relationships with family members whenever possible and become known and appreciated as the unique individuals they truly are. The goal is certainly not to encourage the proliferation of animals that no longer have any kind of natural niche in an ecosystem, but to reject the notion that animals are ours to exploit simply because we can. Rescuing and providing refuge to farmed animals, who are utterly dependent on the mercy of human beings, signals that all animals are worthy of respect and that one very important way for people with the privilege of choice to help build a more compassionate world where biodiversity has a chance to flourish is to adopt a vegan lifestyle. Young people like animal activist Genesis Butler, and Greta Thunberg who was instrumental in inspiring this month’s massive intercontinental School Strike 4 Climate Action, have certainly made the connection.
On Sunday, March 31st at 6:00 pm, a delicious vegan lasagna dinner is scheduled to take place in the Denman Community Hall in support of Island Pacifica Animal Sanctuary, and the chef will be yours truly! The cost is $20-$30 per person (sliding scale) including dessert, with limited seating available. Besides making dinner reservations for the fundraiser, donations can be made through the sanctuary’s GoFundMe page: https:www.gofundme.com/islandpacificaanimalsanctuary, or via e-transfer to Dorkyhorse@gmail.com. Cash donations are welcome too, although tax receipts cannot be offered at this time. A receipt and regular updates on where funds are spent will be provided upon request. Visit Island Pacifica Animal Sanctuary on Facebook (no website yet) or contact Cheryl Henkelman directly for additional details about her project. To reserve seats for the Denman Dine-Out on March 31st, please call 250-335-1209!
No Bake Carrot Cake with Cashew Cream Frosting
I don’t think I’ve ever shared a raw dessert recipe in this column, but having recently acquired a massive supply of gorgeous organic carrots I’ve been experimenting like mad. Carrots are rich in antioxidants and other nutrients, great for our skin and eyesight. Enjoy!
2 cups organic cashews, well soaked
1-2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons liquid coconut oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
water, as needed
2 large carrots, peeled
1.5 cups oat flour or buckwheat flour
1 cup dates
1 cup dried pineapple (or more dates)
1/2 cup dried coconut
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Blend all frosting ingredients together until smooth, adding as little water as possible. Set aside. Cut carrots into small chunks, then add them to your food processor with the other cake ingredients and pulse until it’s all in really small pieces and sticks together. Press into the bottom of a six inch spring-form pan. Spread on about 1/3rd of the frosting. Freeze until hard, then press on the rest of the cake mix. Set in fridge overnight, then frost the whole thing (or you can do it right away). Remove from pan, use the remaining frosting and decorate as desired. Options: pistachios, walnuts, spring pansies, etc. Bon appetit!