Edmontonians demonstrated their exceptional generosity this week supporting Albertans displaced by wildfire. The giving continued at an event Friday night to support victims of human trafficking in our province.
Human trafficking – the act of forcing, coercing, or deceiving an individual into selling sex or labour for personal gain – is an extreme violation of human rights. In Edmonton, both newcomers and Canadian citizens are trafficked for labour and for sexual purposes, in both legal and illegal industries.
ACT Alberta is a local organization that has arisen in response to this challenge. They provide services for victims of human trafficking, but resources are limited.
“Referrals into ACT Alberta have doubled on average every year since 2008,” says Andrea Burkhart, Executive Director of ACT Alberta. “It’s challenging to help individuals who have often been severely traumatized and require very specialized assistance.”
Burkhart goes on to note that victims of human trafficking need everything from food and medicine to long-term professional therapy. “We often struggle to help coordinate and provide for the basic needs of people. Victims of human trafficking need our help and compassion.”
The Spero Gala is an annual fundraiser organized by a group of local volunteers who are working to raise the awareness and funds needed to respond to these challenges.
Hosted by CBC’s Kim Trynacity, the night featured live entertainment by local band 100 Mile House along with other local musicians, spoken word artists, a silent auction by Edmonton artisans and catered goods by Drift. Funds raised will go toward ACT Alberta’s Victim Assistance Program, which supports the needs of victims of human trafficking in our province.