B.C. anti-child sex trafficking advocate, Cathy Peters, visited Chilliwack to motivate the community to help put an end to what she’s calling “The new pandemic: Child sex trafficking in B.C. and how we can stop it.” (Sarah Gawdin/The Progress)

B.C.’s children are at risk, says child sex trafficking watchdog

Cathy Peters traverses the province trying to rid B.C. of child sex trafficking

A former B.C. teacher turned advocate wants to help communities across the province put an end to child sex trafficking, which she says is occuring at an alarming rate in the region.

Cathy Peters says she’s always had a soft-spot for children, but it wasn’t until her son began working for a Manitoba MP that the safety of children became her key priority.

As Peters explained, the school where she taught in Delta was near what’s called “a kiddie stroll. A place where children would walk up and down the street to sell their bodies.” So at that time, her goal was just to get her students to successfully complete Grade 10.

READ MORE: Chilliwack organization running on faith and donations

Today, her mission has expanded from getting kids to a certain point in their education, to preventing them from ever being sold into the sex trade. To do this, Peters has been presenting all over the province to police, city councils, schools, churches, and whomever else she can, to talk about what she’s calling a “new pandemic: child sex trafficking in B.C.”

In the past two-and-a-half years, Peters has presented to more than 180 groups free of charge.

“British Columbia is the best place in Canada and North America for sex buyers,” said Peters during her presentation in Chilliwack’s Neighbourhood Learning Centre on June 19.

READ MORE: Raising awareness about sexual exploitation

And Peters wants to make sure Chilliwack, with its close proximity to the American border, has its eyes wide open when it comes to the safety of the community’s children.

“Don’t fool yourselves,” she said, looking around at the dozens of people who attended her presentation. “You have a very big problem here. Don’t be surprised if you find prostitution rings in the high schools.

“Where children play, predators prey,” Peters said simply.

“Child sex trafficking is all about the money,” continued the retired schoolteacher. The average pimp, says Peters, can get anywhere from $280,000 to $360,000 per year per victim. And right now, the most popular commodity on the sex trade market are young, white girls between nine- and 14-years-old.

“And our aboriginal girls are getting destroyed by this,” added Peters.

Const. Isabelle Christensen, who has been a member of the RCMP for more than two decades, sat in on Peters’ discussion.

“I think when we hear human trafficking we think of something different than what it is,” said the community liaison officer. “We’d like to think we don’t have that problem in Chilliwack, but seeing how it’s defined, it’s more like the old version of prostitution and johns.”

And the best way to combat that model says Peters, is to focus on what she calls the “Two Es:” education and enforcement.

In 2014, Canada enacted Bill C-36, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, which made the buyers of sex criminals, and those selling sex victims. However, Peters says it’s poorly enforced, which has lit the region up like a beacon to those looking to buy illicit sex.

“Our federal government is on the trajectory to fully decriminalize prostitution … We already have johns who act with impunity …and this will lead to brothels in every community. We are headed for hundreds of (Robert) Picktons (at this rate),” continued Peters.

But even in the darkest of places, the smallest bit of light helps. And Peters says Chilliwack is primed to be a leader in ridding the province of this criminal blight.

“You have a great detachment here, work with them!” exclaimed Peters, who met with each of the city’s four watches over the course of a month to make her presentation. “Don’t take (issues) on personally, get the police involved.

“I hear all the time from police, ‘We just don’t get the reports.’ So I beg of you, report it,” Peters continued.

And while the police reports help tremendously, Peters says the other aspect of ending this pandemic is ensuring a community has the right services to help victims escape with their lives.

Having seen a lot in her career with the RCMP, Christensen says one of the most important things that she walked away from Peters’ presentation with was the resources we have available at our fingertips.

“It opened my eyes to the services we have,” said the community-based officer. “The possibility of help is there.”

For more information on the services Chilliwack has to offer, visit the local services website at www.comserv.bc.ca, or the Child and Youth services website: childandyouth.com.


@SarahGawdin
Sarah.Gawdin@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Abbotsford International Airshow opening 50-year-old time capsule

Bronze time capsule was put together to commemorate AIA as Canada’s National Airshow

Abbotsford’s UFV gym now without a sponsor

Partnership with Envision Financial ends, school seeking new organizations to partner with

Road washout affecting section of Highway No. 3 near Manning Park

Road maintenance crews are on the scene, with an almost two kilometre long stretch impacted

CBC Bearcats hire Rebecca Garner as women’s volleyball head coach

Abbotsford-based team hires former Bearcat, Briercrest star to lead program

Children’s author hopes public can grant father’s wish to see work in Abbotsford library

Dawn Doig’s father recently died from COVID-19 after staying at Worthington Pavilion

VIDEO: Injured bald eagle rescued in B.C. First Nations community

Bird suspected injured in fight, whisked off to Coquitlam rehab

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

Human Rights Tribunal denies church’s request to toss out White Rock Pride Society’s complaint

Star of the Sea and White Rock Pride Society to go to Human Rights Tribunal hearing

Toronto Raptors’ Ujiri says conversations about racism can no longer be avoided

Thousands have protested Floyd’s death and repeated police killings of black men across the United States

‘I’m afraid’: Witnesses of wolf attack on senior near Prince Rupert worried about safety

Frank Russ shows where the unprovoked wolf attacked his father

Protesters prepare to rally against racism in front of Vancouver Art Gallery

Rally is in response to the deaths of black Americans and a Toronto woman

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

B.C. money will be split between Vancouver Island and Indigenous tourism

Most Read