Over 400 young women (and youth who identify as female) attended the second Young Women Unite Virtual Symposium on Saturday, February 26, 2022.
Organized by Brantford Police Service, in partnership with Nova Vita Domestic Violence Prevention Services, Victim Services of Brant and Six Nations Police, the Young Women Unite virtual symposium provided valuable health and safety information to our community’s young female population.
Girls, women, and those who identify as female, between the ages of 13 and 19, who reside in Brantford, Brant County, Haldimand-Norfolk County, Six Nations of the Grand River and Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, were all eligible to participate, receiving a $45 gift card as incentive for their participation. Adding to the excitement of the event, numerous prizes including bursaries for post-secondary education were randomly provided to attendees throughout the 90-minute event.
The symposium featured knowledgeable and experienced female speakers from partner agencies who lead discussions related to topics ranging from healthy relationships, general health and well-being, and human trafficking. This year’s featured speaker was Kelly Tallon Franklin, founder and Chief Executive Director of Courage for Freedom, a Canadian-leading organization who exists to educate, train, and certify front-line and community service providers on proven strategies and prevention tactics to serve vulnerable victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
Kelly is an international and national anti human trafficking task force chairperson with business and professional women and has been acknowledged and awarded many accolades globally as a survivor advocate and activist champion of minor-aged children and youth. Kelly, her teams, and their projects have created awareness movements and developed support for victim survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation that include equine therapy, trauma informed and person centric care approaches that are revered and respected. Kelly is a survivor, best-selling author, award-winning speaker, respected advocate, and trainer on the issue of human trafficking, sexual exploitation, force prostitution and equines.
Funding for the event was provided through the Community Safety and Policing Grant awarded to Brantford Police Service from the Ministry of the Solicitor General. This grant has allowed Brantford Police Service to collaborate with multi-sectoral partners including Nova Vita, to embark on a comprehensive anti-human trafficking strategy, implementing strategies ranging from prevention to an enhanced effort between police and victim services. The initiative provides a strategic, multi-dimensional approach to reduce victimization and identify victims and those vulnerable to become victims of human trafficking. Anyone, from any walk-of-life, can be a target for human trafficking for the purposes of sex trafficking or labour trafficking. However, in Canada, women and girls are at greatest risk, as well as individuals from certain populations, such as Indigenous women and girls, new immigrants, children in the child welfare system, persons living with disabilities, LGBTQ2 persons, and those struggling socially and/or financially. Better understanding the facts about human trafficking, who is at risk, how traffickers recruit and exploit victims, and what signs to look for is a major step in helping to fight this widespread and often invisible crime.
“Many communities like ours are experiencing human trafficking – over 2/3 of the reported cases in Canada are in Ontario. Human Trafficking can be a difficult topic for parents to discuss with youth, which is why events like this are so important. Today’s event helped to empower over 450 youth in our community thru education. I would like to thank the Ministry of the Solicitor General for providing the funding opportunity to allow us to bring this event to the community for the second year now. I would also like to thank our partner agencies: Nova Vita Domestic Violence Services, the Victim Services of Brant, Six Nations Police Services and the members within the Brantford Police Service for their dedication to this collaboration, which will have great benefit to all of our communities,” said Deputy Chief Jason Saunders, Brantford Police Service.