On October 20, the first ever Walk for Freedom was held in Prince Albert. The group A21 leads the way on the Walks of Freedom each year, and their movement is growing. A21 wants to make people aware that there are millions of slaves in the world today, so they talk about it, fundraise and organize the Walk for Freedom.
The Walk for Freedom was created to bring attention to human trafficking around the world. Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings through recruitment, control of and use of victims for their bodies and for labour. This is accomplished through force, fraud, and coercion. Victims are bought and sold against their will. This is slavery. Physical, verbal, and sexual abuse, forced prostitution and barbaric working conditions are all a way of life for those trapped in slavery. Many young children are also taken and face a life of misery and abuse.
Walks of Freedom were held in over 400 locations in fifty countries all over the world. A21 states that they reach 70 million people worldwide with their yearly walk. Prince Albert was the only location in Saskatchewan to host the Walk for Freedom.Walkers, dressed in black, line up in single file and walk. In Prince Albert, this single line of people walked throughout down town. They have one message: slavery exists. Walkers hold signs and pass out flyers with messages and information about human trafficking. In Prince Albert, the walkers joined thousands of people around the world who held similar marches in their own communities, taking millions of steps, in hundreds of cities. The organizers and participants in the walks believe that each step matters and that each step makes a difference. As they draw more attention to this issue, and as more people become aware, it becomes easier to identify and help victims.
It is difficult to believe that in this day and age, human trafficking and slavery are still being practiced. And this is not a problem “in other countries”, it is here in our own back yard. Many young women are prostituted right here in our province and in our city.
The organizers believe that “when we show up locally, we have an impact globally”. While attention is being brought to this practice, there are still many men and women around the world who are being held as slaves. Participation in The Walk for Freedom is one small thing we can do.