February 10, 2020: Bonnie Johnston, Human Trafficking: “Not in My City” NotInMyCity.ca
Bonnie Johnston, from Not In My City (NIMC),was introduced by Holland Berry. She spoke to us about child and youth sexploitation and trafficking. “Not in our city. Not anywhere”.
The highlights of her presentation were:
- Founded by Paul Brandt, a well-known folk singer, who saw this abuse in SE Asia and wondered if it happened here.
- The mission of NIMC is to bring all the major stakeholders and community agencies together to collaborate and corral the catalysts of this ugly practice in our community and nationally; they support high-risk youth, work towards greater community awareness, work with communities and plan through education and collaboration to reduce this practice in our communities.
- Their symbol is the yellow rose which symbolizes friendship.
- They claim that this is one of the fastest growing areas of criminal activity in Canada.
- It recruits and transports young and vulnerable people into the forced service of sex.
- Ideal age of these, mostly female, victims is between 12 and 14 years of age.
- This is a highly cloistered practice and one that many do not realize is actually happening in our midst.
- Many young people do not realize that they are being manipulated and are on a path to greater abuse and degradation.
- Many victims do not come forward and expose that they are, or have been, a part of this practice.
- 75% of all sex workers are under 18 years of age and have been brought into this practice when they were much younger.
- The most vulnerable are young girls that suffer, or have suffered, mental health issues, learning disabilities, social isolation, child abuse experiences and poverty.
- NIMC has allied with major corporations, government and social agencies, the RCMP, the airport authorities in Calgary and Edmonton, Uber drivers and others that are likely to witness such activity.
- They work with these groups to provide post-release support for victims in order to rehabilitate them into regularity after they have been rescued.
- They have posted signs on the city buses, at airports and major travel stations in order to create greater community awareness.
- They believe it takes a whole community to solve this problem.
To thank the speaker, Darren Grierson presented Bonnie with our Boltman and explained its significance.
Darren Grierson, Bonnie Johnston, and Gerry Meek
reported by Saadat Keshavjee