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Camille Labchuk profile

Updated: Mar 25

Camille Labchuk is the executive director of Animal Justice, Canada's leading animal law advocacy group. Influenced by the commercial seal hunt near her native Prince Edward Island, she became a vegetarian, then vegan, and wanted to work to protect animal rights. Previously, she worked in politics as a press secretary to a federal party leader, and then in communications for an animal non-profit. After recognising the impact of animal law, Camille pursued a law degree and is now leading Animal Justice in groundbreaking legal cases and reforms to improve animal welfare in Canada.

Camille’s Path to Animal Law: 

Growing up on Prince Edward Island, Canada, Camille was surrounded by the beauty of nature and wildlife. This is where she first saw how animals can suffer, especially seals in the East Coast seal hunt. This early exposure to animal cruelty truly impacted her, and after seeing a documentary about animal abuse, she stopped eating meat when she was 12.

Camille started university studying psychology and planned to pursue a PhD in neuropsychology. However, her life changed when she decided to take a year off after finishing her first degree. Camille got into politics and ran as a Green Party candidate in Canada's federal election. This experience opened her eyes to advocacy and politics, which she found more inspiring than her previous scientific pursuits.

Camille moved to Ottawa and worked as a press secretary for the Green Party leader (a former environmental lawyer). She learned a lot about media, saw first-hand how legal training can help with political advocacy, and considered the potential to use legal skills to help animals. She began to consider attending law school to focus on animal rights.

While working in politics, Camille also had the opportunity to help film the seal slaughter. This exposed her to a community of vegans and activists and strengthened her commitment to a career in animal law. While in law school, she got involved in different organisations and groups to learn more.

As there weren't many programs for animal law in Canada, Camille chose the University of Toronto. She had a great professor who knew a lot about animal law and helped introduce her to a network of legal professionals in animal law.

Camille interned at Animal Justice as a student and later worked as a criminal defence lawyer, where she learned valuable legal skills. Later, she started her own law practice focused on helping animals. Eventually, she returned to Animal Justice and dedicated herself to growing it into a leading organisation.

Camille’s Successes in Animal Law: 

  • Camille played a key role in advocating for and achieving the ban to stop whales and dolphins from being kept in places like aquariums. This was a huge deal for protecting these sea animals as it ensured that no future captivity or breeding of these marine animals would occur. It was a group effort with other organisations, but Camille and her team were proud of their contribution to making this happen.

  • Animal Justice was also instrumental in changing a government bill so that by around 2035, Canada will stop using animals for testing things like chemicals and products to see if they are safe. This change is a major step forward for animal welfare in Canada, as it aims to reduce and eventually eliminate the use of animals significantly. It will help stop animals from being hurt in these kinds of tests.

Camille’s Challenge in Animal Law: 

  • Camille believes changes in society and laws usually take a long time. Often, laws need to be revised to keep up with what people think and feel. They are more influenced by powerful groups who either support or don't support them. This can be frustrating. For example, even if most people agree with protecting animals, big businesses that use animals might not. And these businesses have a lot of influence and lobbying power, which can slow down or stop changes that would help animals.

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