Calgary City Council declared April 24, 2013 Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day
A day to recognize and create awareness around sexual exploitation was established by a group of agencies, including Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary, and supported by city council.
"I am overwhelmed by the turnout," said City Alderman Diane Colley-Urquhart as she looked out across the room at the Servants Anonymous Society.
About 200 people gathered for Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day to show solidarity in tackling the issue.
"I think the establishment of this day is long overdue," added Colley-Urquart, who read the proclamation to make April 24, 2013 Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day (SEAD) in Calgary.
SEAD came together through the collaboration of numerous agencies in Calgary: Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary, Calgary Police Service, The Alex, Hull Services, Servants Anonymous Society, McMan, and Wood's Homes.
Rick Hanson, Calgary's Chief of Police, was at the event and shared his thoughts on sexual exploitation through dealing with the issue in his decades of police work.
"There are so many numbers but we all know that numbers don't begin to speak the truth about the magnitude of the issue," he said.
One of his messages during his speech is that people shouldn't judge those in the sex trade. The reasons people are in the sex trade go beyond what one might think. He said those in the sex trade need to be seen as victims.
"The reality is, nobody chooses that but many are forced into that," said Chief Hanson, describing numerous measures the police are taking to address sexual exploitation before it even becomes an issue.
"Thank god there are people like you out there trying to make a difference," he said to the crowd.
One woman, Tammy, shared her story about working in the sex trade. Read her story in the Calgary Herald.
How we help ...
Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary has several programs to help youth who are, or at risk, of sexual exploitation.