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Slaves in your Neighbourhood--Part 2

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Over the last year, I have been contemplating the relationship between awareness and action, and I am not convinced that they are the same thing; you can be aware that slavery is still occurring around the world, but what action are you taking to alleviate or eliminate it? Yet awareness and action can often intersect as awareness prompts a desire to act. For example, awareness can lead to action by taking the Slavery Footprint quiz. By taking the quiz to see "how many slaves work for you," participants become more aware of how slavery is embedded into society and can consequently take actions to make wise consumer choices. While the survey may not be 100% accurate and is only an estimation based on the products you regularly consume or purchase, it reveals just how widespread slavery is and how embedded it is in our everyday practices.

Raising awareness is only one method of action, and many are called to specific types of action based on their means and talents. Here are a couple of ways you may be called:

         -Financial action. There are many organizations that provide support and services to victims of human trafficking (both domestically and abroad). Many of these organizations face extreme financial challenges as they struggle to continue their work while receiving minimal funding. Those with financial means can act by supporting organizations or individuals advocating for or working with victims of human trafficking.

         -Action through political advocacy. If you feel strongly about how the government can work through laws and policies to protect victims of human trafficking, please take action by contacting your MP or MPP. We can also ask the government to provide better support to organizations that work directly with victims. In 2012, the federal government announced the “National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking.” Please contact your MP to keep our government accountable to its promises.

         -Awareness action. Talk to your friends. Post news articles on social media sites. Write editorials for your local newspapers. Spread the news that slavery exists today and that Canada is not immune.

         -Service action. Many organizations are looking for volunteers to serve in a variety of capacities. Perhaps you would like to volunteer for an organization to advocate on a political level, raise awareness through community campaigns, or directly support victims and provide ongoing support for survivors. I also believe in strong youth programs that emphasize the importance of building trusting relationships with youth in order to prevent them from being targeted by pimps and traffickers. If you are actively involved with youth, learn to identify the signs of an at-risk trafficking victim, build relationships with youth so they feel comfortable confiding in adults about struggles they are having, and share with them the dangers of trafficking and pimps.

         -Spiritual action. Just as the Church was influential in the abolitionist movement of the 1800s, I believe the modern Church is playing a significant role in the modern abolitionist movement. If you serve coffee in your church, please consider serving Fair Trade products. As a congregation, support organizations that are committed to ending exploitation and slavery. Never underestimate the power of prayer (see below for prayer requests).

The organization Not For Sale develops a variety of resources and campaigns to fight human trafficking. Most notably, they provide incredible resources for churches to coordinate their own Freedom Sunday, an opportunity for your church to focus on the topics of freedom and slavery during a morning service.

Prayer requests for issues surrounding slavery are endless and include prayer for:

         -The (approximately) 27 million slaves in the world today;

         -Survivors, for their healing process;

         -Pimps and traffickers, that they may recognize the magnitude and evilness of their actions;

         -Johns who purchase sexual services, that they may realize how their actions are affecting the individual they are purchasing, their families and themselves;

         -and organizations and abolitionists who are looking for daily renewed strength to keep advocating and supporting human trafficking victims and survivors

I encourage you to investigate more by visiting/reading the following resources

  • Walk With Me is an organization which provides support and services to victims of human trafficking in Canada and also provides training to law enforcement and social service agencies/workers so victims can be better identified on the front lines.
  • [free them] is an organization “dedicated to raising awareness and funds to abolish global human trafficking, the modern slave trade.”

Jay and Michelle Brock of Hope For The Sold have been called by God to raise awareness about human trafficking through video productions. In 2009, they developed their first documentary Enslaved and Exploited: The Story of Sex Trafficking in Canada and are currently in the process of producing a second documentary which will explore the question of legalizing/decriminalizing prostitution.

[Image: Flickr user Elvert Barnes]

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