As an elected councillor I discovered Cathy Peters who is a retired educator and who I soon discovered was a champion of awareness to the topic of the potential of a child sex trafficking triangle. Naively, I believed that human trafficking wasn’t something that could be happening in my country and surely not in my province. From Cathy’s research that she shared with local governments and anyone who would listen I learned that this issue is a growing worldwide problem that most people are not aware of.
Cathy’s book “Child Sex Trafficking in Canada and how to stop it” is a must read for all people especially parents. It’s a heart wrenching study and research on prostitution in Canada by a most passionate and dedicated person that cares deeply about eradicating child sex trafficking in the world. She is doing this by educating the people of the effects and impacts this has on children put into enslavement as young as six to eight years of age. This situation is almost out of control as a couple of decades ago the average age of recruitment was thirteen years of age. Cathy states that “Prostitution is multi-traumatic and is not work. It is an atrocity to use the term work where women are beaten, sat on until they cannot breathe, forcibly impregnated, raped, gang-raped, raped with a weapon, anally raped, nearly drowned in a tub or toilet, choked, suffocated, porn photos taken, porn/snuff films made, forced to watch others harmed, threatened to be killed and the list goes on and on. No buyer of sex cares if a prostitute is injured, trafficked, is underage or on drugs. The buyers only want that they want”.
Reading Cathy’s book is at times overwhelming to anyone who has no idea on this topic. The true stories of individuals who have been in the business and have been able to somehow leave with help is both horrific and inspiring. As a mother I am loathe to even imagine this happening to any child of mine or to any child of any age in the world. I admire Cathy’s commitment to this issue for the past four decades. She has persevered despite facing an uphill battle to have people listen to the information she has researched meticulously.
Most would have given up, instead she became even more fervent about informing the public by regularly speaking out to lawmakers, politicians, educators and anyone that would hear and she accomplished this by supporting all required expenses herself.
I met Cathy several years ago when she came to the Convention Center in Vancouver while I was there attending a UBCM conference.
Appreciating her dedication to this issue in 2018 I invited Cathy to attend the AKBLG regional conference that was hosted by my Fernie Council. She said yes and paid for her own flight, hotel and other expenses. She conducted a session, spoke to the crowd at end of the conference and made visits to the schools and Police headquarters. I introduced her to our MLA Tom Shypitka who in turn introduced to the BC Legislature.
Cathy has amassed an unbelievable number of speaking engagements across Canada, (600 presentations to 20,000 people since 2014) she has been invited to Parliament to speak at the legislature and has been on television and radio speaking about this issue. She said she has contacted every member of Parliament in Canada, every senator, and every premier and all local government members. It seems Canadians are waking up to the severity of this topic because it is affecting all corners of the country. I was told that Fernie, being a resort town, is considered to be in the triangle that starts at Edmonton, Alberta turning in southeast BC and into the US states next to our two provinces.
I find this information disturbing especially as just a few weeks ago I was told that a child was asked to get into a van close to the IDES school, she ran to a neighbouring house.
I have believed that Canada was somehow above other countries; others have shared this sentiment as Cathy quotes in her book Sir Wilfred Laurier, Canadas 7th Prime Minister, “Canada is free, and freedom is its nationality”. She also quotes Martin Luther King Jr. who said, “Deep in our history of struggle for freedom, Canada was the North Star.” Cathy says this freedom seems to have eroded especially when it comes to and I quote “lack of data collection, lack of victim services, poor collaboration between provincial and federal governments, the need for pro active law enforcement, a growing number of Canadian child sex tourists, lack of training for prosecutors and judges, especially for the restitution for victims, the need to partner with private sector and financial institutions to look for money laundering as a consequence of the proceeds of crime. The most at-risk populations are indigenous, followed by migrants, LGBTQ2S, the disabled, at- risk runaway youth and youth in the child welfare system”.
Cathy’s book covers information on resources and stories on survivors that will impact your heart and mind greatly. Its information that all need to be aware of as sex trafficking is happening before our eyes and we don’t even recognize it. My wish is that this book could be found in all libraries and schools so it could become a learning tool for not only parents but all educators.
Thank you, Cathy Peters, for your love of humanity and for dedicating so much of your life to improving the life of children and women by educating the public about exploitation that as your book reads can be “prostitution, sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or removal of organs”. Unfortunately, many of us are ignorant of this dark part of our country. Thank you for making a difference by your continued perseverance in this crisis. Please read this book as it will open your eyes to this very important issue.
By Mary Giuliano
Mary arrived in Fernie in May of 1953 and has lived here ever since, by choice, because she loves the Elk Valley and everything it stands for. Read more from Mary here.