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Local CWL Council determined to help combat human trafficking

CWL wants Feb. 22 as Anti-Human Trafficking Awareness Day declared provincial-wide.

SASKATOON - Members of the Catholic Women's League Canada St. Anne Parish Council are working towards raising awareness on the issue of human trafficking, believing that the community needs to unite to combat this heinous act.

Last month, the CWL Canada St. Anne Parish Council held a flag-raising event to inform the community about the issue. The City Council has also declared Feb. 22 as a Human Trafficking Awareness Day has been observed nationally since 2018.

“We feel that together we can do more. That is why our small council at Saint Anne’s thought we might be able to help bring awareness to our community,” said Anne Ashcroft, who co-chaired the campaign with Donna Aldous and backed by Council President Pat Ballantyne.

"We believe awareness of this terrible crime will lead to action. We hope this action [flag-raising ceremony] will stop human trafficking or improve the lives of people affected by this horrible crime.”

She said they could not do the project without the help of St. Anne’s Pastor Rev. Fr. Matthew Ramsey, the parish staff and parishioners who supported them — from planning to the actual day of the event, where more than 50 people braved the cold weather.

Ashcroft said their CWL council would continue to hand out the blue ribbons that symbolize the victims’ sadness, pain and suffering and remind us of the heartless people involved in selling and buying people for profit.

“As part of our annual plan, we will continue handing out blue ribbons and pamphlets as a reminder of this horrific social injustice that we hope is enough to work toward an end to human trafficking,” said Ashcroft.

Ashcroft said their council would continue to hand out blue ribbons and pamphlets to remind them of this horrific social injustice. The CWL council also plans to acknowledge Feb. 22 every year as part of their awareness campaign, where they will hold prayer programs and a special mass for the victims and survivors.

“Our council will also request a special donation be made to organizations such as Hope Restored Canada or by purchasing one or more backpacks through the IWIN (I’m Worth it Now) Program, initiated by St. Michael’s CWL Council in Calgary,” said Ashcroft.

“Human trafficking is one of many social justice issues we support across CWL Canada. However, this is the first city proclamation and flag-raising initiative. Assisting the victims to bounce back after this awful experience is not an easy process.”

They are also working on a resolution to request the government of Saskatchewan to declare Feb. 22 every year as Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the entire province, which has the fifth-highest rate in the country according to 2020 data.

"When the Government proclaims this day, every CWL council in Saskatchewan will be called to action, according to their volunteer base, in several ways, such as providing a prayer service for all victims and survivors," said Ashcroft.

“If every CWL Council in Saskatchewan could provide some action and financial support to an organization such as Hope Restored Canada, it would be an amazing accomplishment. There is so much work yet to be done. Any help will always be appreciated.”

She also stated that providing financial and volunteer support to organizations such as Hope Restored Canada, which helps victims and survivors, are other ways to help bring awareness on the issue, aside from distributing blue ribbons and pamphlets to parishes and the community.