In this interview, Shae Invidiata, the event coordinator of Buying Sex Is Not Sport (BSNS) panel in Toronto continues to share the significance of the event and anti-human trafficking advocacy on personal level.
What has it been like working on this event?
I feel very honored to have been approached to director and bring this panel to Toronto. This is a message that could not come at a better time in Canada-right before the Olympics. This awareness and importance of the campaign is crucial to our nation. This event has been a ton of work to pull together, and as we are now one week away from the and a few weeks away from the Olympics, it is paramount that this message, “the demand for paid sex fuels human trafficking” get out to the nation of Canada but also to our visitors during the Olympics. I was praying with a few people the other weekend RE human trafficking, and one lady was joining us via skype in Germany, and in her prayer she said, that she has seen the devastating effects that legalizing prostitution has done to her country. This lady in prayer said, “the legalization of prostitution is the eternal destruction of a nation.” I guess one of the purposes for the event as well, and why it has been so great to work on this event is that we can ensure that people are going to hear this message and begin to understand, if they don’t already, why prostitution should not be legalized.
How did you first learn about human trafficking?
When I was 18 I moved to Honolulu, HI to pursue my university education (I know what you are thinking- yes I did actually go to class, not all the time, but I did ☺ ). The street I first moved onto was Kuhio Avenue, which I learnt quickly was commonly known as Candy Lane. Candy Lane was where all the prostitutes walked at night. During my time in Hawaii I began to reach out to these women and girls (which over the years of living there, I kept noticing younger faces on the streets). I lived in Hawaii for 3 years years before I moved to Vancouver in 2006; it was around this time that I began to expand my knowledge of a ‘prostitute’ to a ‘prostituted’ woman/girl/child, to which the words “human trafficking” became a part of my knowledge and vocabulary.
How have audiences responded to it?
We have not had the panel yet, so this is a post question I think. But in terms of when we have gone out to tell people about the panel and that it is coming to Toronto-majority of people, regardless of age are supportive and relatively shocked that this is happening in Canada and around the world (today!).
What does being able to work on a project like this mean to you?
This is my heartbeat in life, so to work on an event like this, drives my passion and fuels my soul to keep pressing in. This injustice is soo massive that sometimes it can be overwhelming to try to see the end the slave trade, working on an event like helps you to re-focus for a particular moment in time, to just worry about reaching 1250 (both venue capacities combined) people, to raise up activists, and to send out a ripple effect. In line with my heartbeat, working on a event like this reminds me of the unique calling on my life, and that I have been called for such a time as this to bring forth this message, the abolition of the modern day slave trade. From a professional perspective this has been a great opportunity to gain further experience in event planning and directing. More importantly this event has allowed me to grow and strengthen my network and contact database—some great partnerships have been birthed through the happening of this panel, and I know that this is just the beginning—the best has yet to come!
What about this event’s efforts do you think makes it a particularly effective means of raising awareness of trafficking?
Usually events are dictated by the venue location, in that if the venue is in Toronto then the invitees are those who are in the area of the venue. However, because trafficking knows no boarders, and is not limited to districts or boundaries, I took the same approach when deciding where the word would go out. Of course people in the surrounding area of the venue were important to invite, but this also stretched to beyond the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), from the Niagara region to Waterloo from Toronto across to Vancouver, to New York, NY and Virginia the word has gone out that this panel is taking place. The unique part of this, is even though people in these more distant places may not come to the panel, a seed has been planted and a conversation may birth around the issue of paid sex and human trafficking because of hearing about this panel. The first step to STOP Human Trafficking is raising awareness and starting a conversation. The other effective aspect was not limiting age groups to this panel-so I involved high schools, colleges, universities, businesses, churches, organizations.
Is there any follow-up being planned for this event?
This campaign “Buying Sex Is Not A Sport” will continue into the Olympics and there is talk about keeping the campaign going afterwards- but there has not been a concrete answer yet on this. At the panel people will be able to provide feedback from the panel and also ask to receive more information on updates on human trafficking and other events/fundraisers.
How can people support the event and its initiatives?
People can support the event first by coming, and bring a friend with you! And to not just stop there, but take at least one piece of information that was heard and tell someone about the injustice of human trafficking, start a new conversation. Donations can be given towards the campaign. People can also sign up for the email update, where they will receive how they can be involved in small and larger way to fight human trafficking-to get connected with others who are fighting for the freedom of women and children around the world.
What can people find more information?
People can find out more information for the panel by going to http://www.free-them.net on that website they can also sign up to receive updates on human trafficking issues and events.