'There is change happening': Cross-Canada events call for end to human trafficking
Beatrice Wallace, a human trafficking survivor and ambassador for Project Maple Leaf, stands on the steps of the Saskatchewan Legislative Building with her granddaughter. (Marc Smith/CTV News)
REGINA -- A small gathering was held on the steps of the Legislative Building in Regina on Friday morning to raise awareness of human trafficking.
At the same time, similar events were happening at seat of government in each province and territory to mark United Nations World Day to End Trafficking in Persons, which started in 2014.
"This is a part of Project Maple Leaf, which was started by a 16-year-old survivor, Kelly Tallon Franklin and she wanted Canadians to be aware that its children that are being sexually exploited and this is a way that we stand with her," Beatrice Wallace, the Regina ambassador for Project Maple Leaf, said.
Wallace is also a survivor of human trafficking, which happened when she was 14 years old in Regina.
"It was about eight years ago when I came out with it because it was such a hidden shame," she said. "Now I want to advocate for our younger generation that we are here for you and I’m going to personally do everything in my power to prevent children from being sexually exploited."
While the issue of human trafficking remains in Saskatchewan and across Canada, Wallace said supports in place for victims has improved.
"People are talking about, before people weren’t talking about it, survivors are coming forward and saying, 'this happened to me and it’s not acceptable'," she said.
"There is change happening."
According to the Government of Canada, 97 per cent of human trafficking victims are women and girls, and 45 per cent are between the ages of 18 and 24.