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Tearful ending for PNE's 4-H kids after year of loving care for animals

August 25, 2015  Dan Fumano & Nick Eagland, The Province

Dean Spady has had Tuesday, Aug. 25 marked on his calendar all year. “This is one of the most important days of the year,” said Spady, leader of the Mission 4-H Beef Club. “It’s a day that we plan our whole year around.” Even with a long time to prepare for Tuesday, it won’t be easy to keep emotions in check.

At this year’s 4-H Livestock Auction, Tuesday afternoon at the PNE, when Spady’s daughter Christina, 20, sells her 18-month-old steer, Outlaw, it will also mark the end of her career as a 4-H member. “It hasn’t really hit her yet, but it will,” Spady said Monday. “You might see some tears from her.” He added: “It’s a very emotional day for everybody. It will be a tough day for me to hold it together.”

The PNE’s 4-H Festival takes place over the first four days of the fair. Tuesday marks the culmination of the festival, and of the entire year for 4-H members showing a market animal. The 4-H kids, ranging from age 10 to 20, choose an animal in the fall, raise it over the coming year, show it at the PNE’s 4-H Festival, and then sell it at the annual auction.

This year’s 4-H auction starts Tuesday morning with the swine, lamb, goat and rabbit auctions. The steer auction starts at 1 p.m. and closes out the day. “It’s a commitment these kids make when they enter 4-H, they know this is what’s going to be happening with their animals,” Spady said.

These 4-H beef cattle, Spady said, “are fed better than most people are fed” and “pampered every day.”

Monday in the PNE barn, 4-H members from around B.C. spent some of the final hours with their animals. Niki DeJonge from the Abbotsford 4-H Beef Club said some kids were sitting with their animals, grooming them and talking to them. “There will be a bunch of tears,” DeJonge said. “They bond with that animal.”

Alicia Tenbos from the Abbotsford 4-H Beef Club said the kids “work twice a day with their animals, morning and night. Feeding, training, grooming, you name it. All year, leading up to tomorrow.”

After the sale, the kids say a quick goodbye to their animal, Tenbos said, then it’s “off to the processor, and it gets processed, and then...” DeJonge finished her sentence: “On our tables. Everybody’s tables.” Tenbos said: “Then after that, they go on to the next chapter and look for their project for next year, and they start it all over again.”

Although Christina Spady’s 4-H career will end Tuesday with the sale of Outlaw, her younger brother Jorel will be back next year, and the five youngest of Dean’s 11 kids will join 4-H when they’re old enough. Christina’s four older siblings have already gone through the program. “When my kids are done and I’m done, it will be a sad day for me,” Spady said. “It’s something that I live for.”

August 26, 2015 comment: We contacted The Province reporters who covered the PNE’s 4-H Auction advising them as to the early and deep indoctrination of 4-H children who are repeatedly exposed to a message of violence, betrayal, and disrespect to sentient beings, portraying non-human animals as expendable commodities to be exchanged for money. Animal agriculture is an immoral and dirty business; that of a bygone era. The media should not be a conduit for such a message. Even kids know better; thus the tears.  

Thankfully, Direct Action Everywhere brought attention to this unsavory event by staging a disruption.

Read more: 4-H member recounts experience and impact on her life
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