Get more details here!
Get more details here!
Check out Priceless on facebook and come on out!
It is my pleasure to promote this Sunday’s fundraiser for Walk With Me, a fantastic survivor-led organization that is providing aftercare for trafficking victims here in Ontario. Here are the details!
I personally know the Walk With Me team, and promise you that your investment will go a long way. Check out the website to buy tickets and find out more info. If you can’t make it this weekend, you can make a donation instead!
Heads up! Free-them’s third annual Freedom Walk is taking place in Toronto on September 15! The money raised will go to a local organization that is very close to my heart, Walk With Me, which is an absolute lifeline for victims of human trafficking. Walk With Me is working closely with various police services and supports many trafficking victims in Ontario and Canada.
Do you LOVE garage sales? Do you live in the Hamilton / Guelph / Dundas / Flamborough / Burlington / Waterdown area? This weekend, there will be a yard sale at Paterno Nurseries to raise funds for Hope for the Sold and Walk With Me. If you like buying second hand treasures, or supporting anti-trafficking initiatives, or both, check it out!
When: Saturday July 21, 2012, 8am to 1pm
Where: Paterno Nurseries, 3 km West of Clappison’s Corners on Hwy 5 in Flamborough (334 Dundas St. W/Hwy 5, R.R. #2, Dundas, Ontario)
What’s for Sale: A wide variety of household items, clothing, shoes, jewelry, books and DVDs, furniture, makeup, purses, bags and luggage, art and school supplies, toys and more!
Check out the Kijiji ad here. Yard Sale is happening rain or shine!
Buy your tickets today for $40.00 or pay $50.00 at the door!
Defend Dignity works to abolish prostitution in Canada by advocating for law reform and resourcing churches and individuals to get involved. This week Defend Dignity is putting on a city-wide information forum and is bringing in special guest Trisha Baptie, founder of Honour Consulting & EVE, who will share her story as a formerly sexually exploited woman.
WHEN: Friday June 8, 2012 from 7-9pm
WHERE: Bayview Glen Church, 300 Steeles Avenue East, Thornhill ON L3T 1A7
I will be attending this event and would love to see you there! In the meantime check out defenddignity.ca to learn more.
Andrew Kooman’s SHE HAS A NAME, a play about sex trafficking, is coming to a theatre near you on its Canadian 2012 tour:
Haunted by anguished voices, a lawyer poses as a john to build a legal case against a brothel trafficking girls into Bangkok. Can Jason win the trust of a young prostitute known only as Number 18 and convince her to risk her life to testify for the sake of justice?
In February and March 2011, SHE HAS A NAME premiered in Calgary and Red Deer to sold-out audiences and critical acclaim. Burnt Thicket Theatre and Raise Their Voice are now partnering to take this life-changing play to cities across Canada in 2012.
Inspired by an event in April of 2008 in which an abandoned storage container was found in Thailand containing 121 workers from Burma, 54 of them dead, Andrew Kooman’s SHE HAS A NAME dramatically gives human trafficking a face.
The play will be showing in the following cities: Lethbridge, Saskatoon, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, London, Winnipeg, Calgary, Victoria, Vancouver, Kelowna, Edmonton & Red Deer. Get more details and purchase tickets here.
Have a great weekend everyone!
Okay, I’ll admit it. I have Bieber fever. So does my husband Jay. We recently found out that a few years ago a bunch of Jay’s guy friends had been lured into the theatre by their wives to see Never Say Never, a movie documenting Justin Bieber’s rise to fame. After being told that it was actually “not that bad,” we decided to give it a try. And they were right – other than the screaming tweens, we found the story oddly intriguing.
Why on earth am I talking about Bieber on a blog about human trafficking? I’m getting there. Stay with me.
The film showed how Justin Bieber was discovered by Scooter Braun, but things really started to roll when Usher became his champion. It was Usher who got him signed by Island Records, and the rest is history.
Who or what are you a champion of? My heart beats for victims of sex trafficking, and I consider their plight inextricably linked to my own freedom. Not only am I a champion of those already victimized, but I am also a champion of those who are susceptible to being trafficked – whether it be due to poverty, or abusive relationships, or tragic misconceptions. It is for this reason that I write, and advocate, and speak, and research. It is also the reason my husband and I are making a documentary about legalization of prostitution and its connection to sex trafficking.
We are raising $80,000 for this film project, our hope being that through it we can shed light on the legalization debate (hot topic right now in Canada and around the world) and help change hearts and minds on the realities of prostitution. We will also be taking an in depth look at preventative models that keep those who would be vulnerable from being trafficked and exploited. We are well on our way with fundraising and would love YOU to be a champion to help us reach our goal! Here’s one cool way you can do that:
Last fall when our fundraising efforts were just getting started, some of you hopped on bikes to raise money for Hope for the Sold!
This year we have high hopes and would love for the RIDE to take use the rest of the way, so that we can hit the road and begin filming. This is an urgent issue as the legalization debate is headed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Rides are scheduled in the cities below, but don’t worry if your city is not listed! There is also a Ride Anywhere option where you can register a team and ride in your town. For the rest, click on your city below for info! US locations here.
Right now we are especially looking for TEAM CAPTAINS – who will take the lead and encourage others in their community to form a team. Many of you ask how you can help in the fight against sex trafficking, so here’s your opportunity to put on your helmet, raise some cash, and make a difference! (Oh and p.s. – for those of you who are not in cycling shape, don’t worry! There are different ride lengths!)
A couple weeks ago I went to a prostitution awareness event put together by Sextrade 101 and Sheatre. As I drove to Toronto I wondered what the evening would hold. All I knew was that some kind of interactive theatre was involved, and I felt a mixture of eager anticipation, nervous reservation, and peaked curiosity. What does interactive theatre look like? Would I find myself standing up in front of a full room, forced to participate or answer some kind of difficult question I lacked the answer for? What misconceptions would the event shatter and what lessons was I about to learn?
I walked into a packed room with tables and caught the eye and beautiful smile of Natasha Falle, the amazing woman who started Sextrade 101. ”Good, I’m in the right place,” I thought. I sat down at a table with the Free-them crew and some others, and immediately had a roast beef dinner set before me. It was awesome to catch up with some blog readers as I ate (you know who you are!).
The event began with a keynote by Victor Malarek, the host of CTV’s W5 and author of The Natashas: The New Global Sextrade and The Johns: Sex For Sale and the Men Who Buy It. He talked about how before he started investigating sex trafficking for The Natashas, he probably would have supported legalization of prostitution. But after being held at gunpoint when taking girls out of a brothel in Kosovo, speaking with sex trafficking victims and hearing their stories, and researching what johns think about women, he has drawn his line in the sand as an abolitionist, a total abolitionist. Prostitution is violence against women, because it is not about choice but about survival. I am grateful for men like him who take a stand.
The play was about to begin. A group of young women and one man took the stage and introduced themselves. In this moment I realized the profound significance of the play…these young women were survivors of prostitution and would be acting out scenarios based on realities of the sex trade. I held my breath as they began, acknowledging their courage to share with us experiences they’d probably rather forget.
One scene depicted what it is like for someone trying to leave the trade to be in a classroom, where classmates made fun of her for not having a computer. Another showed the girls getting ready for ‘customers,’ and another revealed the violence they experience. The one that haunted me most was the part in which the main character is talking/fighting with her boyfriend/pimp. The invisible chains that hold these young women in the trade may as well be physical – that’s how strong they can be. Finally, there is a scene of vulnerability and recruitment.
The first time through we watched it like a normal play. Following this, the audience was asked to participate. The team went through each scene again, but this time we had to yell “STOP” if there was some way to intervene. The audience member would have to replace someone on stage and act out what the right course of action would be.
As you can probably imagine, this was challenging and uncomfortable for many who chose to propose a new course of action. I often find myself sitting at events or reading books thinking, “well clearly I would do this in their situation.” But when a complex scenario laid before me with room full of people looking on (including those who had experienced the horrors of exploitation), all of a sudden I found my heroic ideas melt into a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Would I actually care enough about fellow classmates to hear their real stories? If one of my classmates in university had been trying to get out of the trade and was struggling, would I have ever even noticed? If others stigmatized them, would I do something about it? If they needed some extra help to find resources, would I be willing to sacrifice my time?
If I was a bystander and saw a man push a woman down on the street, would I interfere? Should I? Would that just make her receive punishment later because her pimp is threatened by ‘outsiders’ getting involved? Would calling the police make her situation better or worse? What if she didn’t want my help? What if he had a gun?
The crowd got into some lively conversation about these scenarios, and not everyone agreed as to what was the right thing to do in each one. As I wrestled with the jumble of complexity in my mind, one of the actors said this:
Prevention. There it is again. The word that drives me and bothers me, motivates me and frustrates me. Prevention is difficult to measure. It does not seem glorious. It is hard to show numbers on a progress report. But as an abolitionist, I strive to be a preventionist. One of the young women on the stage asked, “where was all the help when I was a child? If someone had intervened then, I would not have gotten into this mess.”
Healthy, loving adoptive families. Compassionate, intentional teachers. Patient, devoted mentors. Brave, fully-present parents. Caring, hospitable neighbours. We all have a role to play in preventing these messy, uncomfortable, exploitative, harmful situations from ever happening in the first place.
The evening ended with a story from Angel, a daughter of one of the women who was murdered by Robert Pickton. You could have heard a pin drop. I was so grateful for her beautiful honesty and her willingness to share how she is finding healing step by step. Natasha Falle, who herself left the sex trade a number of years ago with the help of someone who believed in her, gave all the women who performed the play a rose at the end of the night. There were hugs, and tears, and laughter.
THIS is what redemption looks like.
To Natasha Falle and everyone who put this event together, THANK YOU! It was truly one of the best awareness events I have ever been to. To the brave young women who took the stage, thank you for allowing me to learn and be challenged. This evening is forever etched in my mind.