Today I was heading out to the gym but I was not focused on my workout, I was anticipating where I was going afterward. I was on a mission to purchase A Sparkle of Hope pin from the local Medicine Centre Pharmacy. For those that are in the dark as to what I’m speaking about, let me shed some light.
The Salvation Army has a campaign that is raising awareness and funds for the Human Trafficking epidemic in British Columbia. The funds raised will go to a worthwhile program that assists women and children who are victims of sex slavery. Poor laws, lack of understanding and protection, big money, consumers and apathy; all play their part in this global problem. Currently, there are proposals to toughen the laws as Canada has a poor track record for prosecution and sentencing.
Quite awhile ago the campaign’s commercials aired on our local station, I was instantly attracted to the information and message. It was powerful, but unfortunately I don’t believe it ran long enough to really catch the eye of the general public. Hopefully they will run more ads in the future.
My day was made complete by my detour down the road to buy this pin for $10.00. I encourage you to go to the Salvation Army’s website for more information. Click on my Action page, scroll down to Human Trafficking. Please take the time to read about their efforts and view the link to The Truth Isn’t Sexy public service announcement.
I will wear my pin proudly. It is a small symbol of my solidarity with those that wish to crack down on the sale of humans for sex and show the victims there is HOPE.
Republish of my 2009 article: A Sparkle of Hope – Interview with Major Winn Blackman
I had the great honour to speak with Major Winn Blackman who is the Divisional Director of Women’s Ministries for British Columbia’s Salvation Army. She represents the Salvation Army division on Canada wide initiatives; is part of the national committee and heads up the working group for human trafficking and is the Liaison Officer for three downtown Vancouver ministries.
Those are a lot of hats to wear but Major Winn Blackman considers it very rewarding. “The big thing for me is seeing lives reclaimed and transformed; that happened through faith, guidance and counselling. Lives are being helped also through a campaign that targets a huge issue.
The Sparkle of Hope Campaign is the brainchild of Suzanne Smith, as part of their public relations department she wanted something that people could look at to remind them of the issue and lives affected by Human Trafficking. One of its primary focuses is Human Sex Trafficking, something that plagues many parts of the world but gains even more ground in the city of Vancouver, BC as it gears up for the 2010 Olympics.
The Truth Isn’t Sexy Youtube video inserted here
In 2008 I was introduced to the campaign through a commercial, The Truth Isn’t Sexy. The images and messages that flashed up on the screen gripped me instantly. The Salvation Army had partnered with Medicine Centre Pharmacies to sell their Sparkle of Hope pins to raise awareness; the pin is a beautiful symbol of a crown. It has been a very successful campaign as hundreds of these pins make their way across the country and beyond; over half the cost going directly into human trafficking programs. Major Blackman wears her pin proudly, “You would be surprised how many people ask me about the pin when I’m wearing it.”
Long before the world descends on the city of Vancouver to celebrate the Olympics and marvel at the great athletes, there is a highly organized group of criminals who traffic women and children for the purposes of sexual exploitation. Besides the selling of Olympic memorabilia there will be the selling of people. The Salvation Army plans to be there, to be the voice in the crowds. Major Blackman adds, “ We are working on a postcard that we hope to hand out during the Olympics, to aid in awareness, hand out to those that may need the help, give them a number they can call or a place to go.”
The Salvation Army wants to continue its campaign of awareness, provide training and safe housing. They have facilitated awareness seminars across BC, as well as training to recognize victims and instruction on what to do when you identify a victim of human trafficking. “We are doing the Train the Trainers so that our front line workers will be trained before the Olympics. Our ad campaign and public service announcements leading up the Olympics will focus on the demand side.”
The Salvation Army partners with REED (Resist Exploitation Embrace Dignity) who is also doing pins and t-shirts. Their slogan is Buying sex is not a sport. “Which I think is a great slogan!” says, Major Blackman. What is interesting is the amount of partnerships the Salvation Army has in order to really tackle this issue. Something as tragic and devastating to the human spirit needs all the help it can get.
How can you become involved? Call the Salvation Army’s divisional headquarters; Major Winn Blackman at (604) 299-3908(604) 299-3908. Check out their website The Truth Isn’t Sexy http://www.thetruthisntsexy.ca/asparkleofhope and purchase your pin. With it, you will receive these words:
In the eyes of heaven, every daughter is royalty. Wear this pin to remember the victims of human trafficking. The crown represents their priceless value; and the jewel is the hope that one day, the sparkle in their eye will be restored. THANK YOU FOR GIVING HOPE TODAY.
Jennifer is currently working on a comprehensive article that will explore Human Sex Trafficking; its definition, common misconceptions, challenges and societies role in its growth. This will include more of her inspiring interview with Major Winn Blackman.
Jennifer wishes to thank Major Blackman for the opportunity to talk about this important issue, but also for her tireless efforts on behalf of trafficking victims.