We All Have a Role - Ending Sexual Exploitation in Edmonton

Sexual exploitation - taking selfish or unfair advantage of any person for sexual purpose or gain - happens right here in Edmonton.

Mayor Mandel will proclaim the week of April 22-26 as the Edmonton Sexual Exploitation Week of Awareness on April 22 at the CBC Centre Stage in City Centre Mall. Speakers will include Cultural Advisor Eric Daniels, MC Lindsay Daniller, Chair of the Edmonton Sexual Exploitation Working Group (SEWG) Kathleen Quinn and Inspector Dave Spiers of the Edmonton Police Service. 

The SEWG will be hosting a series of events focusing on the issues that impact sexual exploitation throughout the week.

A public event, "Paying for Sex: The Community Impact," is set to take place on April 24 at the Santa Maria Goretti Centre. The event will focus discussions around why men buy sex, civil responsibility, police strategies to curb the demand and actions communities can take.

The week of awareness will conclude with a two-day professional conference, We All Have a Role: Ending Sexual Exploitation in Edmonton, at the Santa Maria Goretti Centre April 25-26. 

The conference will cover a variety of topics including youth involvement in sexual exploitation, the invisibility of boys/men involved in sexual exploitation, the use of the Internet as an exploitation vehicle and the underlying historical context of the Aboriginal peoples. Interactive workshops focusing on the four key topics mentioned above will be offered throughout the conference.

Keynote speakers for the conference include Dr. Sue McIntyre, Lewis Cardinal, Crown Prosecutor Craig Krieger and Trauma Counsellor John Walker. There will be a panel discussion with the Edmonton Police Service Vice Unit and PSECA. Closing ceremonies will be presented by Dr. David Long.

"Edmonton has a strong history of working together to end all forms of sexual exploitation. This year we are increasing our focus on males, both as consumers and as exploited persons," said SEWG Chair, Kathleen Quinn. "We want to equip front-line workers, family members, teachers and community members with knowledge and tools to prevent sexual exploitation and to intervene when vulnerable persons are being harmed."

Representatives of the SEWG encourage everyone to wear something orange throughout this week of awareness as it symbolizes change, energy and the warmth of compassion.

Calgary builds off Edmonton's week of awareness

Edmonton is not the only Alberta city recognizing sexual exploitation. Based off of the success of the Edmonton Sexual Exploitation Week of Awareness, the Calgary Street Level Working Group has expressed interest in hosting its own Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day on April 24 at Servants Anonymous.

The day will include:

  • a proclamation ceremony with Calgary Alderman Diane Colley-Urquhart
  • a discussion on City Police initiatives by Calgary Police Chief Rick Hanson; community partners will address sexual exploitation 
  • a "Shock Talk" by an alumnus from Servants Anonymous who will share personal experience related to exploitation and exiting the sex trade
  • networking with agencies and service providers who work with sexually exploited individuals
  • entertainment by Myja, a young singer/songwriter

"By having an awareness campaign, it really promotes a better level of understanding as it relates sexual exploitation in our city [Calgary] and surrounding communities. In turn, appropriate services can be accessed to provide supports that best meet the needs of individuals who are exploited, at risk of or engaged in prostitution," said Bryan Hume of Hull Services.

No matter what city we may live in, every citizen must do his or her part to end sexual exploitation and help build a safer community.

The Sexual Exploitation Working Group is a partnership of various community agencies including ACT Alberta, Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society, Catholic Social Services, CEASE: Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation, City of Edmonton, Edmonton and Area Child & Family Services Region 6, Edmonton Police Service, Neighbourhood Empowerment Team, REACH Edmonton Council for Safe Communities and Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton.