Canada’s Largest Human Trafficking Case in Court Tomorrow, Wednesday March 1st in Hamilton – Please Attend!

by Michelle Brock on February 29th, 2012

Though at Hope for the Sold we generally focus on the issue of sexual exploitation more than other forms of human trafficking, sometimes there is an urgent need or important story about labour trafficking that needs to be highlighted.  All forms of human trafficking are driven by greed and involve exploitation, manipulation, and coercion, and are oftentimes run and facilitated by organized crime.

court case1 225x300Tomorrow, March 1 of 2012, Canada’s largest human trafficking case is going before the courts in Hamilton, Ontario. The victims are men from Hungary, who were locked up and forced to work in construction in Hamilton.  Timea Nagy, a sex trafficking survivor who started Walk With Me, an organization that provides aftercare services for victims in the GTA, is requesting that people who want to show their support to the victims that will be testifying against their traffickers in court come out the hearing tomorrow.

These victims need to know that Canadians care about them and what happened to them, and showing up to Court as they bravely face their abuser is a great way to do that.

When: Thursday March 1, 20120 at 2:30 p.m. (This was changed from 9:30am.  Please check the Walk With Me facebook page for updates on any further changes.)

Where: John Sopinka Court House, 45 Main Street East, Hamilton, Ontario

Here is the press release that Timea has sent out to anyone interested in coming out tomorrow.

Thus far the Hamilton Hungarian case is the largest human trafficking case in Canadian history, both in number of accused and victims.

In what has been called Canada’s largest human trafficking case to date, A man by the name of, Ferenc Domotor Sr., was accused of being the ringleader in a human trafficking and fraud operation in the City of Hamilton, in the Province of Ontario. Domotor Sr. is currently facing human trafficking, fraud, conspiracy and organized crime charges before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

Allegedly, Domotor financed and arranged for the victims to fly to Canada, and instructed them to claim refugee status upon arrival. Domotor Sr. then locked them in the basements of homes in Hamilton and Ancaster, Ontario where some were fed “three-day-old meals that even dogs would not eat.” Domotor Sr. then allegedly confiscated their passports and forced them to work at a construction site for seven days a week without pay. Several victims claim that they were threatened, ordered not to leave the houses unaccompanied, and beaten.

“The public needs to be aware of flaws in Canada’s refugee and welfare systems that allowed a group of Hungarian Roma criminals to live in Hamilton and get paid for it” says the lead prosecutor of an ongoing human trafficking case.

“Disgusting, stunning, shocking, I just don’t have the words to describe,” said the assistant Crown attorney, Toni Skarica.

Attila Kolompar, one of the most vicious members of the Human Trafficking ring, will stand before Court on March 1st, at 9:30am 2:30pm at the John Sopinka Courthouse in Hamilton, Ontario. The victims will be attending to court as well, and will be asked to read their victim impact statement in front of their abuser.

This is the largest Human Trafficking Case in the Canadian History, and the Canadian public needs to be aware of this issue.

I am sadly unable to make it to Hamilton tomorrow, but am asking everyone in the Hamilton area who can to attend this court hearing.  A friendly face means the world for victims who are forced to re-live their abuse in a courtroom, and this is a very practical thing you can do to demonstrate your support.

If you have questions, send them to info@walk-with-me.org, or through facebook.  Once again, be sure to check on the Walk with Me facebook page for any further time changes.

Let’s make it clear that we as Canadians will NOT tolerate the exploitation of human beings!

For more reading:

If you do attend, contact me afterwards – would love to hear what you thought of it and how it went.

UPDATE: Thank you to all of you who showed up in support!  Attila Kolompar received a sentence of 6 years, though he is eligible for 2-for-1 sentencing.  More details here, and here.

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Reflections On a Month of Love

by Michelle Brock on February 28th, 2012

valentines chocolate 300x219February is the official month of celebrating love. The stores are filled with red boxes of chocolate, which still sit there – discounted – for a couple of weeks after Valentine’s Day.  Another remnant from Valentine’s week is sitting in my room – the Love & Sex edition of Hamilton’s VIEW magazine.  As the month of love draws to a close, it has served as a constant reminder of how distorted the world’s perception of love is today.

As I flipped through the articles, I was hoping to find stories of true love, sacrifice, and commitment to putting others first.  But scattered between the ads for sex toys, HIV testing, stag shops, and adult shows, most of the articles were all about “me.”  How to find cheap condoms.  How to find Mr. Right. How to get better sex.  What disturbs me most are the pages of escort and massage parlour ads at the back of the magazine, advertising faceless bodies with weight, height, and nationality details beside them.

This is NOT love.

Love is a verb.  It is about serving others.  Putting someone else first.  Making sacrifices.  But instead society has made it about how much we can devour, like locusts ravaging a land.  How much sex I can get.  How good I can make myself feel – be it emotionally or physically.

I once heard a teacher say that the opposite of love is not hate, but selfishness.  Selfishness makes sex tourists prowl distant lands for vulnerability.  Selfishness makes companies hoard profits and disadvantage the poor.  Selfishness leads to broken families.  Selfishness makes human trafficking profitable.  Selfishness funds massage parlours and strip clubs.  Selfishness refuses to look a prostituted woman in the face, an attempt to rob her of her humanity.

Selfishness is a serious offense, and unfortunately February – instead of being a month of true love – has become of month of selfishness in disguise.

Let’s make February look different next year.  Let’s pressure papers like the VIEW to discard the ads at the back of the magazine.  Let’s find creative ways to actually love and serve one another, instead of seeking “me” first.  And of course, let’s do this all year round, not just during the commercial season of heart-shaped boxes of chocolate.

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Abolitionist Events in Ontario Next Month

by Michelle Brock on February 23rd, 2012

world tour2Not For Sale Academy World Tour


WHEN: Sunday March 25, 2012, 3:00-7:30pm

WHERE: Bethany Community Church, 1388 Third Street, St. Catharines ON

The Main Session: A multimedia presentation consisting of spoken word and live music that includes an overview of modern slavery as it exists today, the story of Not For Sale and abolitionists around the world, where the abolitionist movement is headed, a look at the many tangible action steps designed to equip and empower your community and opportunities for interactive engagement with NFS representatives at the close of event.

The Free2Work Workshop: Designed to provide participants with a stronger understanding of the complexities that surround forced labour and supply chains. The workshop will also highlight the profound role we all can play, as consumers, simply by the way we shop.

The Social Entrepreneurship Workshop: Focuses on the innovative work Not For Sale is undertaking around the world through the implementation of social enterprise models. This session will give participants a clearer understanding of why economic justice means social justice.

The Faith Based Activism Workshop: Looks at the intersection of faith and social justice. The workshop will also explore the history of faith inspired activism, people whose spiritual conscience turned their calling and used their gifts into social justice movements.

Cost is $20/person in advance or $25/person at the door. For tickets contact Jennelle or Ziggy Duerksen at 905-685-4062 or duerksensigried@aol.com. Half an hour will be allotted for BYO supper. The rating for this event is G – suitable for all.

One Voice One Hope Conference

 

one voice1WHEN: Fri. March 30 – Sat. March 31

WHERE: London, ON

Friday 8:30am-4:30pm:

Professional Development Day for Law Enforcement, NGO’s, Service Providers and interested parties. Featured presenteers include MP Joy Smith, Natasha Falle-Sex Trade 101, International Justice Mission, Sister Sue Wilson- Sisters of St. Joseph, Dee- a survivor, law enforcement & other experts. Cost $40 with catered lunch. $25 for students & seniors.

Saturday 8:30am-1:30pm

Human Trafficking Awareness Day – open to the public. Learn about all forms of human trafficking and what we can do about it.  Speakers include MP Joy Smith, Crime Stoppers, International Justice Mission, Dee- a survivor, Natasha Falle-Sex Trade 101 & others.  Admission is FREE with donations accepted.  Continental breakfast provided.

One Voice One Hope1

Want to get equipped to fight human trafficking?  I would highly recommend attending one of these excellent abolitionist events!  You can check both on facebook too – Not for Sale & One Voice One Hope.

For those of you attending our workshop this weekend at the TrueCity Conference, we are very excited to meet you and hope to give you some ideas on how you can take part in the abolitionist movement!

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Drew Dudley on Everyday Leadership

by Michelle Brock on February 15th, 2012

Ever feel like you are not making a difference?  That changing the world is too overwhelming?  That there is no point to even trying?  Let’s drop our excuses and live out influence and leadership daily – it could look different than you thought!  Check out this 6 minute TED Talk.

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Joe Brunsting: On Music, Sex Trafficking & Making a Difference

by Michelle Brock on February 14th, 2012

J Brunsting1

This month I had the privilege of attending a CD release party for Joe Brunsting’s album, In Colour.   I knew Joe from my university days, where we were part of a social justice club together.  For a while, one dream of Joe’s has been to create an album, and he told me at the end of last year that he wanted it to support Hope for the Sold.  We were very excited!  The event was lively and well-attended, and we were so grateful that Joe chose to combine an ambition of his with an issue that he is passionate about.  Here are some questions I asked Joe after the concert:

What pushed you to join the anti-trafficking club at the University of Guelph years ago?

I joined the anti-trafficking club at the University of Guelph four years ago because I was offended by the concept of human trafficking. Out of any world issues I have heard about this is one of those that is clearly wrong no matter which way you turn it. Basically I just felt that it is something that is important for people to be aware of and wanted to help increase awareness.

HFTS block 298x300Why did you want to partner with Hope for the Sold on this project?

I wanted to partner with Hope for the Sold because I really respect their vision and motivation. I am inspired by how much they have stepped out and some of the great work that has already been done. I never had in mind to make any money myself from my music and thought that my music could help things along in the $$$ for Hope for the Sold, and this might further enable them to continue their great work.

What first inspired you to make an album?

I was first inspired to make an album when I heard music from some of my friends who had recorded in home environments. Basically I figured “hey this seems pretty accessible” and I was curious to see what I could come up with. I had been doing some song writing and wanted to share it, and I got motivated when I saw how it can be done simply and on a low budget if need be, and come out with good quality and very enjoyable tunes. I had no big aspirations; I just wanted to try something new.

What is your favourite song and why?

In Colour1 300x300My favourite song is the title track “In Colour,”  for a few reasons:

a) About half the tracks I recorded myself in my bedroom closet (not actually in studio), and I am pleased with how well it turned out considering I was just starting out and learning as I went.

b) This song is the most fun; it is very upbeat and has great energy.

c) I think this song represents some of my current personal development in exploring more of my own creativity and learning how to live “more colourfully”.

Where can people purchase your CD?

Electronic copies are available for purchase from my website, or they can email me at j.h.brunsting@gmail.com to get a hard copy.  $1 from every CD sale goes to Woodland Christian Highschool and the rest goes to Hope for the Sold.

Thank you Joe for caring about this issue and for supporting us!  Thanks to all who came out to the CD release party, it was great to meet many of you!

For those who would like to learn more about where the money we raise is going, check out details about our next project to fight sex trafficking here.  If you’d like to throw a fundraiser for us, please contact us!  Need some ideas?  Check our posts on Christmas parties, spa days, bike rides, birthdays bashes & wedding favours.

Michelle

 

 

 

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The Impossibility of Ending Human Trafficking

by Michelle Brock on February 10th, 2012

Impossible

In addition to running Hope for the Sold on evenings and weekends, I work at an office where we do creative and silly things…like decorate our windows with window markers.  As I was heading out the door last night, I saw a quote that had been written on one of the office windows:

“The impossible can always be broken down into possibilities.”

Author Unknown

The impossibility of ending human trafficking glares at us every day.  It tries to master us, discourage us, defeat and cripple us.  Injustice personified mocks our efforts, tests our motivations, and undermines our actions.

But what if we broke down the fight against sex trafficking into a set of possibilities?

Let’s treat impossibility a little more like this:

Shattering impossible

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Miss Canada 2011 Tara Teng Speaks About Human Trafficking

by Michelle Brock on February 7th, 2012

Miss Canada 2011 Tara Teng

Last year when my husband Jay and I were living on Vancouver Island, we had the honour of screening our documentary about sex trafficking at an event hosted by Miss Canada 2011, Tara Teng.  Back then she was just days away from winning the Miss Canada title, a platform that has provided her with opportunities to fight for the exploited all over the world this past year.  One of those opportunities included a 4 month internship on Parliament Hill with MP Joy Smith, who champions the fight against human trafficking in our government.

Since that event in BC, we have become friends with Tara, and she is truly one of the greatest abolitionists of our time.  Don’t believe she is more than a beauty queen?  Read our interview with Tara!

In addition to catching up via Skype dates over fair trade tea, I love following Tara’s blog.  Recently she wrote a beautiful post about conviction.  Here is an excerpt from that post, followed by a recent Relate Church video interview that is so powerful.

I’ve learned many things over the past two years but one thing that I learned is that the spotlight reveals truth. When all the glitz and glamour fades away, all that will remain is your character. It doesn’t matter how much you shine from a distance, it is only by the strength of your character that you will ever be able to influence others.

Strong character inspires respect. It is by your character that you leave a legacy worth remembering. Good leaders are not born through the spotlight; their character was cultivated deep within them far before they stepped into the spotlight.

Character is only strengthened through intentional discipline to apply integrity to our daily lives in every situation that we encounter.  Character is refusing to back down from your convictions and choosing to do what is right, regardless of personal cost.

True leaders have taken the time to invest in the growth of their character. They know that their convictions and integrity must be intact before accepting any position of leadership or platform. I walked through years of character development and learning hard life lessons before I ever stepped up to the platform of Miss Canada or Miss British Columbia. I went into the pageant with a clear focus, end human trafficking and the sexual slavery of my sisters around the world. I was intentional in my decisions leading up to the pageant and throughout the pageant. No revealing evening gowns, no fake hair extensions, fake nails or bra inserts and no swimwear competitions…No matter how fierce the competition may be, I refused to alter who I was or water down my message. Winning a title is never worth compromising in your convictions.

God is daily challenging me to deepen in my convictions and strengthen my character. I named my blog “With Conviction” and I sign all my emails with the signature “With Conviction” because I want everything in my life to be drenched with conviction. I’m not perfect but I’m willing to learn the hard lessons in life because I know that it is through these that my character is strengthened.

Thank you Tara for reminding us that we have such a responsibility and opportunity to promote justice and freedom in our world!

**In case you missed it last week, check out Eye See Media’s interview about human trafficking with me here.

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In the News: Ontario’s Largest Child Pornography Bust

by Michelle Brock on February 2nd, 2012

In Numbers:

  • 8,940: Number of Internet protocol (IP) addresses in Ontario where child porn is suspected of having been downloaded in the last three months
  • 23: Number of police services searching 76 locations to seize computer equipment
  • 60: Number of suspects arrested
  • 213: Number of charges filed, including sexual assault, child luring and making, possessing and distributing child pornography
  • 22: Number of identified victims, now longer being abused

MP Joy Smith issued a statement on the bust, commending those who worked long hours to put an end to this crime.

I want to commend the Ontario Provincial Police Child Sexual Exploitation Section and the 23 law enforcement agencies involved in this investigation for their dedication and commitment to tracking down the individuals who created, distributed and made available child sexual abuse material. These investigations are long and complex and exert significant emotional and physical tolls on the officers involved.  Due to the immense and heroic efforts of these police officers, 22 child victims have been rescued and are now receiving care.

Children are the most precious members of our society but also the most vulnerable. The creation and distribution of child sexual abuse materials results in devastating trauma in young victims. As a nation, it is incumbent on each of us to support efforts that protect children, hold predators accountable, and restore rescued victims.

I echo her words. This kind of predatory behaviour is unacceptable, and I am so grateful for those one the front lines who are doing something about this injustice.  My hope is that victims can now get healing, and that the perpetrators experience true heart change while paying for what they did. Considering that some of those accused have already had previous sex-related convictions, I am reminded that some form of restorative justice is so necessary in our country.  For more information, check out these articles:

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Benefit CD Release Concert in Guelph Saturday February 4

by Michelle Brock on February 1st, 2012

If you are in the Guelph/Kitchener/Waterloo/Fergus/Hamilton area and like music, this Saturday Joe Brunsting is having a CD release party for his album In Colour in Guelph to help raise funds for Hope for the Sold!  Joe was part of the anti-trafficking group I led at the University of Guelph and has for a long time been a huge support in our efforts to bring modern day slavery to and end.

UoG

Joe and I in the bottom row at an anti-trafficking event at the University of Guelph, 2008

Please see the concert details below, and learn more about Joe and his CD on his website. My personal favourite from the album is #6 (hint: Something I aspire to & very cute), but you’ll have to come to the concert to find out why! Jay and I will be presenting on the current project we are working on as well. Hope to see you there, and don’t forget to bring a friend!

incolour

Please note: we were switching hosting this week for the HFTS website, and are correcting any small glitches there may still be floating around.  Thanks for your patience.  Should just be minor things though.  Contact section is functioning fine.  I will remove this message very soon, once everything has been dealt with.

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