Professional conference focuses on sexual exploitation in Edmonton

Professional conference focuses on sexual exploitation in Edmonton

April 8, 2014 (EDMONTON, AB) - April 7 to 11 marks Edmonton's annual Sexual Exploitation Week of Awareness. This week is organized and hosted by the Sexual Exploitation Working Group (SEWG) - a leadership group working collaboratively to create awareness of sexual exploitation/sex trafficking and its causes and impact.

The UN defines sexual exploitation as any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust, for sexual purposes, including but not limited to, profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another.

Vulnerability can be caused by poverty, homelessness, addictions and mental health issues.

"We work to reduce the market demand and focus on those who prey upon, profit from, violate and buy services from vulnerable persons of any age, or persons in vulnerable circumstances," said Kathleen Quinn, chair of the SEWG.

The goal of the week of awareness is to educate the public about sexual exploitation in our community.

The week began with a proclamation ceremony April 7 and will feature a number of events throughout the week, wrapping up with a two-day professional conference April 10 and 11.

This year's conference, Taking Action: #yegsecret Exposed will cover a variety of topics including workshops on outreach services for men involved in sex work, learnings from the Prostitution Offender Program and the Nordic Model, the SMS Texting Project, using social media as a tool for community development, the role of men in ending sexual exploitation and a plenary on taking action.

Featured keynote speakers will include Noni Classen, Kathryn Bolkovac and Trisha Baptie.

Day one of the conference will conclude with remarks from Associate Minister of Family and Community Safety, Sandra Jansen.

"Whether we are agencies, organizations or individuals, each of us has a unique role to play in ending sexual exploitation," said Quinn. "We can all take action to make a difference."

To learn more about the events and presenters, view the conference package. For more information about these events or to register for the conference, visit


About the Sexual Exploitation Working Group
The Sexual Exploitation Working Group (SEWG) is an Edmonton-based leadership group collaborating to create awareness of sexual exploitation and its causes and impacts. The SEWG is concerned for those who are vulnerable to sexual exploitation (including sex trafficking) due to age, financial desperation, migration, homelessness, prior childhood abuse or neglect, mental or physical health conditions, intergenerational trauma, addictions or any other circumstance that contributes to vulnerability. The SEWG is comprised of representatives from a variety of community agencies including REACH Edmonton Council for Safe Communities, CEASE: Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation, ACT Alberta, Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society, the Edmonton Police Service, the City of Edmonton, the Neighbourhood Empowerment Team, the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton, Catholic Social Services and Edmonton & Area Child & Family Services Region 6.

About REACH Edmonton
REACH is Edmonton's Council for Safe Communities. As a backbone, community-based organization, REACH works to mobilize and coordinate organizations, community groups and Edmontonians to find innovative solutions to prevention and community safety. REACH is the backbone organization of the Sexual Exploitation Working Group.

For more information, contact:
Brittany Lewchuk
Communications Coordinator
REACH Edmonton
780-498-1231, EXT. 303



Sexual Exploitation Week of Awareness Events 

Taking Action: #yegsecret Exposed - Public Event

Wednesday, April 9
6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Santa Maria Goretti Centre, 11050 - 90 Street

Free Event

A hard talk, panel discussion on rape culture and sexual exploitation.

Media Contact:
Lisa Kaye-Stanisky, Edmonton Police Service
(780) 914-9662

Taking Action: #yegsecret Exposed - Conference
Thursday, April 10 & Friday, April 11
Day One: 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Day Two: 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Santa Maria Goretti Centre, 11050 - 90 Street

$50 fee for one day; $80 fee for both days

A two-day professional conference covering a variety of topics focused around the themes of protecting youth and taking action.

Media Contacts:
Kathleen Quinn
(780) 471-6143

Keynote speakers Kathryn Bolkovac and Trisha Baptie will be available for interviews. To set up an interview with Kathryn Bolkovac, contact Karen McCrae at (780) 474-1104. To set up an interview with Trisha Baptie, contact Kathleen Quinn.

Film Screening: Buying Sex
Thursday, April 10
7 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Santa Maria Goretti Centre, 11050 - 90 Street

Free Event

This feature documentary explores the state of prostitution laws in Canada.

Media Contact:
Kathleen Quinn
(780) 471-6143

Keynote speaker Trisha Baptie will be available for interviews.

Film Screening - The Whistleblower
Friday, April 11
6:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Santa Maria Goretti Centre, 11050 - 90 Street

Free Event

This award-winning film shares Kathryn Bolkovac's story about uncovering a sex trafficking ring in Bosnia.

Media Contact:
Andrea Burkhart, ACT Alberta