Most people think of slavery as a thing of the past. But that’s a misconception, says York PhD history candidate Karlee Sapoznik of the newly formed Alliance Against Modern Slavery (AAMS). Human trafficking alone is a $32 billion annual industry today and, at any given time, there are up to 27 million slaves around the world – the majority of which are women and children.
The AAMS, a new not-for-profit organization with a mission to end slavery through research, education and partnerships with other organizations, will celebrate its launch at York with two events. The first is a benefit concert and anti-slavery art auction, Party for Freedom, on Friday, Jan. 28, in the Sandra Faire & Ivan Fecan Theatre, from 7 to 10pm. The second is the Slavery in the 21st Century conference on Saturday, Jan. 29, from 9 to 5:30pm, in the Founders Assembly Hall, 152 Founders College, Keele campus.
“Modern-day slavery is arguably the most underpublicized human rights crisis of our time,” says Sapoznik (MA ’08). Twenty-seven million “is equivalent to the entire population of Canada in the early 1990s. There are reported cases of slavery in every country in the world today with two exceptions: Iceland and Greenland. Public awareness of modern slavery also is low, enabling traffickers to lure thousands of victims into forced labour situations. Canada, for instance, is a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking.”
AAMS has strong ties to York. Many of its executive members are York graduate history students, and Paul Lovejoy, director of the Harriet Tubman Institute, is one of the board members.
The freedom concert will feature motivational speaker Roger Cram of Hiram College as the emcee; anti-slavery activist, TED Speaker and AAMS board member Kevin Bales, president and co-founder of Free the Slaves; survivor Natasha Falle; Glendene Grant, the mother of missing human trafficking victim Jessie Foster; actress, singer and songwriter Kate Todd; guitar player Jeff Gunn and Janelle Belgrave of Peace Concept; Samba Elégua Drummers; an anti-slavery art auction; the Fashion Studio 7 filming crew; and more.
AAMS’s inaugural conference, Slavery in the 21st Century, will examine a variety of issues affecting slavery today. It will feature Sapoznik; Paul Lovejoy, director of York’s Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global Migrations of African Peoples; and University of Toronto Professor Emeritus Martin Klein. Bales will open the conference, followed by four panel discussions. For a complete schedule, click here.
Canadian NGOs Freeing Slaves
Moderator: Roger Cram, Hiram College
Speakers: Jamie McIntosh of International Justice Mission, Lisa Cheong of Ratanak International, Julia Smith-Brake of Chab Dai Canada and Adam Churchman of Canada Fights Human Trafficking.
Canadian Front-line Activists, Survivors, Filmmakers and Fair Trade Advocates
Moderators: Jeff Gunn and Mekhala Gunaratne of Alliance Against Modern Slavery
Speakers: Christina Cudahy of Abuse of Migrant Workers in the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program; University of British Columbia student Brittany Luby (MA ’08), founder of Indigenous Student Life, who will show the five-minute video Trafficking of First Nations Women; Glendene Grant, the mother of missing human trafficking victim Jessie Foster; Azra Rashid, a filmmaker and writer who is currently developing a documentary on forced marriages in Canada; and Michael Sacco of ChocoSol.
Forced Labour, Forced Sex and Forced Marriage – Legal Responses and Law Enforcement Against Modern Slavery in Canada
Moderator: York Professor Annie Bunting of the Law & Society Program
Speakers: Marty Van Doren, the RCMP’s human trafficking awareness coordinator in Ontario; Heather Richardson of Peel Regional Police; University of British Columbia law Professor Benjamin Perrin, founder of the non-governmental organization fighting human trafficking and the child sex trade The Future Group, and author of Invisible Chains: Canada’s Underground World of Human Trafficking (Viking Canada, 2010), has a video message; and Deepa Mattoo, a community legal worker at the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario.
Government Responses to Modern Slavery
Moderator: York West Councillor Anthony Perruzza with assistance from Valerie Hébert of AAMS
Speakers: Conservative MP Joy Smith, Manitoba, and Peggy Nash, president of the federal New Democratic Party, with a video message from MP Glen Pearson.
To register for the conference or buy tickets to the concert, visit the Alliance Against Modern Slavery website.