Week of awareness sheds light on exploitation in Edmonton

Edmonton recognized Sexual Exploitation Week of Awareness with a series of events, April 16-20.

The week began with a proclamation ceremony on April 16 with dignitaries, community leaders and Edmontonians addressing the issue of exploitation. The proclamation was attended by about 50 people, as Councillor Sarah Hamilton declared the week and Minister for the Status of Women Stephanie McLean spoke on behalf of the Government of Alberta.

“Human trafficking and sexual exploitation are particularly deplorable crimes,” said McLean. "Alberta has an exceptional community of organizations, and people who support and advocate for people who have been victims of violence and sexual exploitation. [We thank them for their] tireless dedication in fighting sexual exploitation.”

About 50 people also attended a Lunch and Learn session April 19, focused on the demand side of human trafficking in the Edmonton context.

Kathleen Quinn, Executive Director of the Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation (CEASE) and Staff Sg.t Dale Johnson, with the EPS Human Trafficking and Exploitation Unit discussed the demand side of the sex trade in Edmonton in a presentation titled Buyers of Sex: The Edmonton Perspective.

The session discussed the statistics around sexual exploitation in Edmonton, and what is being done to help educate “johns” and support them in changing their behaviour, as well as supporting efforts to help exploited women exit their situations.

“Education is key,” said Johnson. “We’re not going to arrest our way out of this.”

Video of the proclamation and the Lunch and Learn presentation will be available on the SEWG YouTube page.

This annual week of awareness is organized and hosted by the Sexual Exploitation Working Group(SEWG) - an Edmonton-based leadership group collaborating to create awareness of sexual exploitation and its causes and impacts. The SEWG is a collaborative of community partners, law enforcement, municipal and provincial government, and REACH Edmonton.