My favourite Conservative MP, Joy Smith, wrote a convincing proposal to Stephen Harper about creating a National Action Plan to combat Human Trafficking, called “Connecting the Dots”. The Prime Minister was so compelled that he announced that his government would create a plan to tackle the problem of Humans selling Humans during the last election campaign.
On this past Sunday, I signed up to go on a 5 km walk in support of [free them], which is an organization bringing awareness to the issue of Human Trafficking in our country and around the world. Before the walk began, there were a number of speakers, including Joy Smith. Needless to say, it was inspiring to be in a room full of so many motivated and caring people, who together share a passion for freedom.
These people ranged from politicians, to survivors, to activists, to front lines police officers and border patrol. And there I was with my wife bouncing around in the back of the room, trying to distract our two young kids with juice boxes and yogurt, so we could soak up every word. We heard about the 27 million people around the world who are bought and sold. These people are not treated as human, but as objects. This isn’t a business as usual, employee and employer relationship. This is modern day slavery.
These are the facts:
- Human trafficking is the fastest growing crime in the world today.
- 80% of those trafficked are women and children
- 70% are sold for the purpose of sexual exploitation
- The average age of a girl prostituted is between the age of 12-14
- Human Trafficking is a $32 Billion Dollar industry
- The Industry of Human Trafficking makes more than the profits of Google, Nike and Starbucks combined
People are trafficked for many reasons. The largest being for sexual purposes, but also for cheap labour among other things. The most vulnerable and desperate people are often the targets of traffickers. Countries and individuals from all over the world that face extreme poverty, war, natural disasters, and other human hardships are at the greatest risk . However, this is not simply an international problem outside of our borders. We have our own groups of exploited people in Canada, including our Aboriginal communities, and even those who are indebted to drug and organized crime rings. Others are imported into the county under the false assumption that they are coming to nanny or model, or some other great opportunity offered to them. We have to connect to the dot that says Canada has its own problem with Human Trafficking and it needs the attention of our leaders and law-makers.
With that in mind, we took to the streets of Toronto. As we began our walk, I had the honour of meeting Joy Smith. I worked up just enough nerve to introduce myself, and to thank her for her work, when she engaged me in great conversation about our shared addiction to politics, which led to talking about the blog and the importance of understanding the world of Politics. Just as an aside, Mrs. Smith is a total sweetheart, who is a trustworthy and honourable woman, fit to be a leader in our country, and to be a leader in the fight to end Human Trafficking.
My wife spent the majority of the walk picking the brain of a Hamilton police officer who has fought tooth and nail to bring this issue to light within his own ranks. This is a man who stands for freedom, perhaps at the expense of future promotions and a promising career path. It is clear, that in order to bring about change, to end slavery, it will take an unwavering commitment of doing the right thing. This officer was a role model of exactly that.
I will leave you with two quotes:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”- Margaret Mead.
The founder of [free them], Shea Invidiata shared this quote as she challenged us to take responsibility for our part, to raise awareness, to stand for freedom and justice, to be a dot. So I signed a petition, asking the government to keep the action plan a priority, to create and implement a plan to end Human Trafficking. If you want to read more about the petition, there is a website at the bottom, please consider adding your name to the list.
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” -Nelson Mandela
From a man who spend his life fighting for freedom, we should consider our own freedom. It is not enough to simply be free, but to also live in a way that allows others to experience freedom as well.