Seek Justice Summit
by Katie Pearn
When you hear the terms ‘human trafficking’ or ‘sexual violence and exploitation’, what comes to mind? For some, it may bring up horrifying scenes from movies like Taken, or images of foreign women trapped against their wills. These types of images certainly represent part of the issue, but it may be surprising for many to learn that this problem doesn’t only occur in faraway places. In fact, chances are each of us knows someone, or is someone, who has experienced sexual violence of some kind. This injustice is happening in our homes, our neighbourhoods, our communities.
But there is hope for positive change in our generation! There are many organizations with concerned, skilled, and caring people working to see both victims and perpetrators of sexual exploitation made whole again. There are also compassionate individuals who may be just becoming aware of this terrible injustice, and are looking for ways they can learn more. This is where organizers of The Seek Justice Summit (SJS), a Calgary-based justice conference, hope to help. In its second year, the SJS is a two-day event that will bring together some of the organizations in the Calgary area that are working to fight sexual exploitation, and connect them to concerned citizens. Participants can come and hear from experts in the field, learn about what they can do to help and pray together over the course of the event.
The SJS is hosted by Harmony through Harmony (HtH), a network of singing ensembles in Calgary dedicated to fighting for justice in the context of community, along with International Justice Mission (IJM), a global organization that aims to protect the most vulnerable and poor people from violence, such as sex trafficking, bonded labour and legal system corruption.
“We have learned over the years that there is such amazing work happening to fight sexual exploitation by so many different groups,” says Beth McLean Wiest, executive director of HtH, and SJS event organizer. “We have also learned that this issue is way too big for anyone to tackle alone, let alone apart from God. That is why we are hosting the summit – to bring the church together to learn and seek God in this fight.” The overarching theme of the summit is Justice Begins at Home and it will explore the questions, “What am I doing that is contributing to this injustice?” and “What can I do to help?”
The SJS takes place at Centre Street Church’ West Campus on March 29-30, and will begin with a movie screening on Friday night. Saturday’s activities include a keynote speaker address, a variety of topic-specific workshops such as “Who is ‘She’ in Calgary” and “Why people get hooked on porn and how addiction works”, and will culminate with a powerful “Praying for Justice” event facilitated by IJM with music by Harmony through Harmony. “This is an event for anyone whose heart breaks over the issue of sexual exploitation,” says McLean Wiest. “Whether you have been working for years in the field, or are just learning about this injustice, there will be something for you.”
Registration is $40 for the weekend. Visit www.seekjusticesummit.ca to register and for more information.
Harmony through Harmony is a network of singing ensembles in Calgary that exists to build community, where they expand worldviews to develop leaders who will impact culture through the fight for justice. Since 2009, HtH has helped to raise over $500,000 for organizations doing front-line justice ministry, particularly those addressing sexual exploitation. Visit www.harmonythroughharmony.com for more information.
International Justice Mission is a global organization that aims to protect the most vulnerable and poor people from violence, such as sex trafficking, bonded labour, land grabbing, police and legal system corruption.
IJM’s global team includes hundreds of lawyers, investigators, social workers, community activists and other professionals at work in nearly 20 communities. They work together to rescue victims, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors, and strengthen justice systems. Visit www.ijm.ca to learn more.