Joy Smith speaking at the retreat
ZOE Guest Contributor: Ruth Unger
MP Joy Smith
spent some time with us recently at our Fall WOMEN’s Retreat here in
Manitoba/Northwestern Ontario. I came away from that encounter thinking that
this is a woman that we need to hear. This is a woman we need to know. Mrs.
Smith’s objective for the day was not that of a simple meet and greet. Her goal
was not to impress but to educate. I came away feeling more than educated. I
was challenged. Perhaps the following thoughts will explain why.
Exploitation. Human Trafficking.
Ugly, ugly words. Difficult concepts to
consider. Uncomfortable to consider as a possibility here and now, and yet for many
it is their reality.
Joy Smith hasn’t always known the devastation
of those words. She was introduced to this world by witnessing the impact on
her son, a police officer, as he worked to rescue children from predators.
As mother and former teacher, Mrs Smith has
committed herself to fight against human trafficking by raising awareness and
rescuing victims. In 2004, she became a Member of Parliament, a platform that
she has used to not only build more awareness but to see the Criminal Code
amended and work towards seeing new laws passed.
How does this
happen? How does one woman go from math teacher to law maker?
There is a progression it seems. Awareness
and education that at some point becomes more than facts and figures, but faces
and names. Outrage turns to action.
The majority of those trafficked in Canada
are Canadian born – that means someone from your city, from your town, from
your street, is either a victim or a potential victim. Exploitation happens to
anybody. Exploitation happens anywhere and everywhere. Statistics presented by
Mrs. Smith show human trafficking happens quite literally from coast to coast,
Halifax to Vancouver, and everywhere in between.
The average age of entry into the sex trade
in North America is 12 to 14 years of age…that means some are older…and some, tragically,
The facts and figures are easy to dismiss
if they remain facts and figures. Mrs Smith became involved in rescuing victims
– that gave human trafficking a face. The girl she found shackled to a bed
could no longer be a statistic. The girl who couldn’t be reached before she was
moved again by her captors could no longer be just a number. The girl now in
hiding for her own protection is not a nameless victim. She says these are “all
William Wilberforce, when battling to see
slavery abolished, said “You may choose to look the other way…but you may never
again say that you did not know.”
So, you know.
One woman made
aware has made a difference. You are also one woman.
As Mrs. Smith
reminds us, we serve a God of miracles. We do not battle this out on our own.
Be aware. Ask God what you should do. Do