About 30 community members gathered in the rain on Thursday, with signs and balloons, encouraging people to take a stand against the sexual exploitation of children and youth.
A public rally was held at 3 p.m. at the Abbotsford Youth Commission (AYC), by city hall. It was organized by members of the Fraser Valley Community Action Team (FVCAT) – Bev Olfert of the AYC and Sheila Lum of Abbotsford Community Services.
Abbotsford Police Sgt. Casey Vinet emceed the event, saying that exploitation of children occurs in Abbotsford and needs to be addressed.
Olfert said it is important for people to recognize that sexual exploitation of youth happens all over, behind closed doors.
“It happens in Abbotsford. It’s an issue that’s in every community.”
She said that some youth in Abbotsford are forced to trade sex for shelter, food, drugs and alcohol. She hopes events like the rally can help people realize the importance of protecting the youth in this community.
“We want people to be inspired to get involved with the organization.”
Speakers at the event included Patty Hogan, from the Canadian Federation of University Women, and Jassy Bindra, the human-trafficking co-ordinator for B.C. RCMP.
Attendees listened to the presentations and then marched down South Fraser Way with their signs.
March 11 to 17 is Stop the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Youth Awareness Week, proclaimed by the government of B.C.
British Columbians can wear fuchsia-coloured ribbons to help raise awareness about the week. Fuchsia is a combination of red, for red light districts, and purple, which is the provincial color for violence prevention.