Ignite the Road to Justice Tour Comes Ottawa, St. Catharines, Barrie & Toronto!

by Michelle Brock on August 28th, 2011

Miss Canada Tara Teng and a passionate team of abolitionists have been travelling across Canada on the Ignite the Road to Justice Tour, and they have a few more stops left!

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Ottawa1OTTAWA:

Sunday August 28th
Sequoia Community Church
255 Tartan Drive
Barrhaven, Ontario
10:10 am

Monday August 29th
Ottawa Little Theater
400 King Edward Avenue.
Ottawa, ON, K1N 7M7
7 pm – 9 pm

CN Tower 945x1024Toronto Area:

Friday September 2nd
World Vision Office
1 World Drive
Mississauga, Ontario
7 pm – 9 pm

Saturday Sept 3rd
Centennial Beach Park, Barrie
1-3pm

Sunday Sept 4th
Sanctuary Church Oakville
White Oaks Secondary School
1330 Montclair Dr.
Oakville, L6H 1Z5
10 am

Almost forgot!  St. Catharine’s also has an event:

Central Community Church – Downtown Campus
203 Church Street
St. Catharines
Wednesday, Aug. 31, 7 pm – 9 pm

I hope you can all make it to one of these events.  Check out the Toronto event facebook page and invite your friends! For more info on the tour, here is the Ignite website.

Michelle Brock

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Lessons from a Bumblebee

by Michelle Brock on August 25th, 2011

“Aerodynamically the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumblebee doesn’t know that so it goes on flying anyway.”  ~Mary Kay Ash

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A group of scientists from Oxford University conducted a study in 2009 to look at how bumblebees are able to defy gravity with their undersized wings.  The study found that brute force rather than aerodynamic efficiency is the key to bumblebee flight.  Dr. Bomphrey explains:

“Our observations show that, instead of the aerodynamic finesse found in most other insects, bumblebees have a adopted a brute force approach powered by a huge thorax and fuelled by energy-rich nectar.”

bumblebee costume 192x300Those of us who are fighting injustice, extending compassion, and resisting status quo so that others can have dignity and hope have a lesson to learn from the bumblebee.  This broken world will tell us that our wings are too small.  But by pushing ahead we can continue to fly anyway.

The key we must remember is our fuel, our “energy rich nectar.” What is your fuel?  What gives you energy?  Where do you go to recharge?  In what or who do you place your hope?

Suit up!

Michelle Brock

Bumblebee photo credit: Nick Layton Photography

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Legalization of Prostitution & Sex Trafficking…Hope for the Sold is Making Another Film!

by Michelle Brock on August 22nd, 2011

Hope for the Sold has an announcement to make!

One by one, countries around the world are asking the question, “should we legalize prostitution?” It has developed into a heated debate that rages like wildfire, leaving abolitionists frustrated, the public confused, and the sex industry on guard.  Unfortunately, victims of sex trafficking are the ones falling through the cracks, and pimps and traffickers are taking full advantage of increased demand for paid sex.  Does legalization of prostitution actually work to make our society a better and safer place for women, or are there there better alternatives that need to be explored?

Movie CameraHope for the Sold is embarking on a journey to find out. Our goal is to make a film about legalization of prostitution, its implications, and what we as a society need to do to to put an end to sex trafficking and exploitation.  We believe that there are actions that can be taken on a systemic level that can prevent sex trafficking from happening in the first place.  And we think that a film is an effective way to provoke thought and action that will lead to change.

Many of you have been asking over the last two years what you can do.  Here is your chance!  We are raising $80,000 to make this film and need your help! We recently partnered with International Teams to get charitable status, so donations to Hope for the Sold are now eligible for tax receipts.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Do you like cooking? Cook up a storm, invite all your friends, and charge per plate!
  • Do you have some junk to get rid of? Have a garage sale and donate your proceeds to Hope for the Sold.
  • Do you have access to a DVD player and a screen? Have a showing of our first film and take up a love offering to fund this film.

I have personally always liked investing in projects that are vision-loaded and tangible, and this offers both.  If you wish to support us in this endeavour, cheques can be made out to Hope for the Sold and sent to:

International Teams Canada
1 Union Street
Elmira, Ontario
Canada N3B 3J9

If you wish to donate online, you can do so here.  You can get more information about tax receipts under our About Section.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions or ideas.  Would love to hear from you. And share this with everyone you can!  Let’s end exploitation together!

Michelle Brock

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And the Winner of Invisible Chains is…

by Michelle Brock on August 16th, 2011

Winner of Invisible Chains 1024x757

Thanks to all of you who sent in photos or commented on the Resilience photo essay!  I wrote down all your names and used random.org to select the winner.  Andrew, your name corresponded with the selected number, so send me your mailing address and I will send you a copy of Invisible Chains: Canada’s Underground World of Human Trafficking. Congrats!!

invisible chainsFor the rest of you, check out:

Hopefully this will get the rest of you to buy the book, as it really is a fantastic resource and I promise you will not be disappointed.

Michelle Brock

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The Whistleblower Now in Select Theatres!

by Michelle Brock on August 15th, 2011

Whistleblower poster 2In March I read a fascinating book called The Whistleblower: Sex Trafficking, Military Contractors, and One Woman’s Fight for Justice by Kathryn Bolkovac.  You can read my review here.

In the book, Bolkovac recounts her real life experience working for the private American military contractor DynCorp in Bosnia, alongside a UN peacekeeping mission in the region.  There she uncovers the ugly truth about officers involved in human trafficking and forced prostitution, and risks her life to expose the truth.  If you have not read the book, borrow it from your local library or buy it here (those of you in the U.S., get it here).

As I mentioned in my previous post, the book was being made into a movie.  I am pleased to announce that The Whistleblower is now showing in select theatres in Canada and the U.S.!  Here is the movie trailer.

From what I can gather, the film is showing in two cinemas in Toronto.  Get the info here.  It is also playing in Vancouver, and in major cities in the U.S.  If you happen to find it in other locations, send me the link and I will add it to this post.

If you want to learn more about how peacekeepers are perpetuating and participating in sex trafficking in war-ravaged countries and understand better why the presence of soldiers often results in dangerous conditions for impoverished women, go watch this movie.

Michelle Brock

***Tomorrow I am announcing the winner of Invisible Chains by Benjamin Perrin – one of you who sent in a photo or commented on the resilience post last week will hear from me SOON!

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A Sex Trafficking Poem by Wenzile Nazla Madonko-Fuyane

by Michelle Brock on August 12th, 2011

 

With each tear comes hope, sometimes each tear marks the end.

Tears come with a range of the largest diversification.

A girl, who needs the answers to why life is so harsh, waits for answers that may never come.

An abyss in her heart created with her abuser, her master.

An abyss that will be filled with unimaginable pain and hatred.

A life not even fit for a homeless dog, the pain not even explained by the human mouth.

Is this all that life has to offer?

Is it mine to live if it is this deep?

I guess it is a pinch, we only imagine,

It is a life that belongs to another

As tonight, I will lay in my Egyptian cotton, she will cry for comfort

My stomach will be full, yet she will suffer if she need hers to sustain her.

My kisses rain, her pain pours

What else can I do? Give me the room,

I AM TAKING A STAND TO END SLAVERY

I shed the light of another

It is your chance to tell yours…..

~by Wenzile Nazla Madonko-Fuyane
Photo credit Tashiya-Chan 


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Resilience: A Photo Essay

by Michelle Brock on August 8th, 2011

A few weeks ago I sent out a request for photos on the theme of resilience.  It is a word I’ve heard from hopeful abolitionists, determined safe house workers, and some trafficking survivors themselves. Resilience is an absolute necessity for survival.  The following photos express this word in its various forms, and these photographers have done a beautiful job capturing its essence.

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~Resilience in Phnom Penh, Submitted by Justin Gibson

 

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~Daily Resilience, Submitted by Justin Gibson

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~Resilience by nature, Submitted by Andrew Finlay

 

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~Resilience in opportunity, Submitted by Sarah Wilson

 

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~Resilience in the morning, Submitted by Michelle Brock

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~Silent resilience, Submitted by Andrew McKenzie

  • Did any of these photos resonate with you?  Why?
  • What do you think makes someone resilient?
  • Do some cultures value resilience more than others?
  • What would make someone less resilient?
  • Why do you think resilience is specifically important for victims of trafficking?

Leave a comment below to be entered into a draw to win a signed copy of Invisible Chains: Canada’s Underground World of Human Trafficking by Benjamin Perrin!  I will draw the name on Saturday Aug. 13th and let the winner know via email.  Your comments can be about the pictures themselves, about resilience, your thoughts on trafficking etc.  I will enter your name twice if you get some good discussion going!

A big thanks to our photographers: Justin Gibson (more of his work here), Andrew Finlay, Sarah Wilson, and Andrew McKenzie (more of his work here) for sending in your work!  If any of our other readers are interested in sending in a submission for the next photo essay, let me know.  To see our first photo essay, check out this one on Vulnerability.

Michelle Brock

 

 

 

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They Said It First: Quotes on Slavery & Freedom

by Michelle Brock on August 5th, 2011

Abraham Lincoln5

Abraham Lincoln

“Although volume upon volume is written to prove slavery a very good thing, we never hear of the man who wishes to take the good of it, by being a slave himself.” -Abraham Lincoln

“For every man who lives without freedom, the rest of us must face the guilt.” -Lillian Hellman

“As long as the mind is enslaved, the body can never be free. Psychological freedom, a firm sense of self-esteem, is the most powerful weapon against the long night of physical slavery.” -Martin Luther King

“Slavery can only be abolished by raising the character of the people who compose the nation; and that can be done only by showing them a higher one.”  -Maria Weston Chapman

Maria Weston Chapman

Maria Weston Chapman

“Caged birds accept each other but flight is what they long for.” -Tennessee Williams

“So enormous, so dreadful, so irremediable did the Trade’s wickedness appear that my own mind was completely made up for Abolition. Let the consequences be what they would, I from this time determined that I would never rest until I had effected its abolition.” – William Wilberforce

“For some slaves, the first step out of bondage is to learn to see their lives with new eyes. Their reality is a social world where they have their place and some assurance of a subsistence diet. Born into slavery, they cannot easily redefine their lives outside the frame of enslavement.”  -Kevin Bales

Kevin Bales

Kevin Bales

Slavery and freedom have indeed been common themes throughout history, and we must not become weary in doing good.  Some of these people have given their lives to right wrongs and declare truth.  We have the opportunity to stand on their shoulders and take this mission even further!

Do any of these quotes resonate with you?  Why?

Happy Friday!

Michelle Brock

**Still accepting photos this weekend for my photo essay, details here.




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Disappointing News From the West: BC Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons Slashed

by Michelle Brock on August 3rd, 2011

british columbia welcome signWhile my husband Jay and I were on the road filming our documentary about sex trafficking in Canada, we met several experts, law-makers, police officers, and crisis shelter workers who emphasized the importance of proactive units that seek out traffickers and victims in this country and abroad. Traffickers are extremely organized, and stopping their criminal operations requires Canadians to go on the offense instead of playing defense.

The creation of the BC Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons (OCTIP) in 2007 has been heralded as a step in the right direction by many abolitionists.  It represents a unit that specializes in human trafficking in a region of Canada that suffers from both foreign and domestic trafficking.

The B.C. Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General quietly slashed this office a few days ago. As explained in this press release:

The B.C. government quietly eliminated the position of Executive Director of OCTIP, whose last day of work was July 29th, and is declining to hire staff to cover those on maternity leave “ effectively shuttering the main office of OCTIP in Victoria. The move leaves OCTIP with only two full-time employees in Vancouver and a meager budget of approximately $300,000. No reasons for the drastic cuts have been given.  OCTIP runs a 24/7 victims support hotline, coordinates victim services, trains front-line responders, and raises public awareness about the crime. The future of these life-saving programs is in doubt.

It seems that money is tight for everyone.  In understand that. And while I agree that sometimes programs and offices need to be cut, slashing OCTIP will undermine efforts to rescue and protect the most vulnerable.  If the reason for the cut is that the program is not performing as well as they want it to, the solution is the make it better, not undermine it further.  Considering that human trafficking is gaining momentum in the media and that Canada’s national government is making it a priority, it is strange that BC would choose to take such action.

Welcome BC1

Yes, the unit still has $300,000 to work with.  But consider the chilling words of author Benjamin Perrin: $300,000 is the amount amount a sex trafficker earns per year from exploiting just one victim.”

Puts things into perspective.

Strangely enough, just weeks ago on June 22nd, Shirley Bond (Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General) made the following statement to announce a major online training course launched by OCTIP, with funding from the federal government:

“Human trafficking is unacceptable, and this is the reason the B.C. government created the Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons.  Since we established the B.C. office in 2007, we’ve made it a priority to develop partnerships with all levels of government, First Nations, police, and other community organizations to fight this terrible crime.”

As the office of MP Joy Smith pointed out, Minister Bond’s public commitment less than six weeks ago to make the fight against human trafficking a priority is at odds with her Ministry’s decision to slash OCTIP.

shirley bond1Let’s tell Minister Bond that ending human trafficking is a priority for Canadians!  Sometimes our leaders just need a reminder that we are paying attention and need them to act on our behalf.  Let’s steward this responsibility well.  Here is Minister Bond’s contact information:

The Hon. Shirley Bond
Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General
Government of British Columbia
Phone: (250) 356-7717
E-mail: shirley.bond.mla@leg.bc.ca

You can CC the BC Premier in your email to Minister Bond: premierpremier@gov.bc.ca

To do some more reading, check out the following articles:

Experts Slam B.C. Government Cuts to Human Trafficking Office August 2 2011 – Press Release
Experts accuse province of axing human trafficking office’s budget 24 Hours Vancouver

Standing with OCTIP,

Michelle Brock

***Photographers, send in your photos on this theme for a chance to win a copy of Invisible Chains by Benjamin Perrin!

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