Abbey Park High School students hosted “Human Trafficking Awareness Week” to fight the world’s fastest growing criminal enterprise, that of human trafficking. Abbey Park students have partnered with our local “free-them” organization for the second year to raise funds for the victims, and to increase awareness of the human trafficking issue in the Halton Region and Canada.
In 2011, Abbey Park High School student Anu Lalith Kumar discovered the issue of human trafficking when a neighbour asked her to put up posters for “free-them”. Her fellow social change council members got on board with the campaign, fostering the desire to contribute positively to community and the environment. Kumar along with social change council members partnered with “free-them” to organize “free-them” Human Trafficking Awareness Week. Kumar, now a graduate of Abbey Park, says, “High school students are in the prime target range of trafficked humans, so I’m hoping more students will be affected by the severity of this issue and participate in the week’s activities, as well as make donations.”
The week’s activities included an “Amazing Race” where students were provided with codes containing clues based on human trafficking facts and were encouraged to work through them to get to the finish line. Friday was a day to wear purple and to watch the movie ‘Taken’ starring Liam Neeson. A booth in the front hall of Abbey Park High School has also been a highlight throughout the week as students dropped by to learn more about the “free-them” issues.
Sheila Gabura, Abbey Park High School teacher leading the “free-them” Human Trafficking Awareness Week, notes, “Many do not realize that this is a local issue. Our social change council is attempting to spread awareness of slavery as a global issue and how it affects us here in Oakville… We can’t ignore that there is a real need in our local, national and global community.”
“free-them” founder, Shae Invidiata, speaking at this year’s “free-them” Human Trafficking Awareness Week, says, “Our generation will bring awareness to human trafficking, but it is today’s youth who will be the leaders of tomorrow and bring human trafficking to an end. That is why, we at “free-them” are pleased to support the youth at Abbey Park High School again this year and assist them in taking initiative to create a safer community. Their passion for social change is something to be admired.” Officially founded in 2010, Invidiata partners with people, organizations, businesses, law enforcement and government to fight human trafficking – slavery today. Shae regularly speaks at different high schools, professional groups, public events and speaks with the media to educate, bring awareness, and action to fight human trafficking.
Shae Invidiata, founder of “free-them”, is one of the founding Coalition members forming the first Ontario Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force. A nominee for Canadian Women’s Fashion Magazine Chatelaine, Shae was a Top 20 Finalist for “Canada’s Women of the Year 2011″ for her work and dedication to fight human trafficking and raise up others to join in the worthy fight. She was awarded the YMCA Peace Medallion 2011 and was recently a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, being recognized for her dedication and service to citizens of Canada. For more information about “free-them” and their ongoing efforts please visit: freethem.ca
Abbey Park High School, located in Glen Abbey Gate Oakville, between Third Line and Pilgrim’s Way. Abbey Park is an inclusive learning community celebrating student growth through the pursuit of excellence and lifelong learning.
Abbey Park students, given the opportunity to speak about “Human Trafficking Awareness Week”, passionately say, “We support “free-them” as it is a grass-roots program originating right here in Oakville. Our inspiration for providing this program is that people often think that human trafficking does not affect us here in Oakville – that it happens just in 3rd world nations. In Oakville there are reports of people selling their friends for their own needs – for their own profit! “free-them” is good for local reflection. It brings attention to the products that we use every day and how human trafficking affects us in our everyday lives.” According to student, Andy Chhoeu, he says, “I think knowledge is critical for our generation. We need to realize what is happening and to take initiative to force a change, because without motion, without awareness, people won’t change – won’t want to change.”
For more information visit http://www.freethem.ca/