Miss Canada inspires others to rise up against human trafficking
By Emily Wierenga | Friday, August 26, 2011
Tara Teng is using her platform as Miss Canada to raise the issue of human trafficking. COURTESY TARA TENG
LANGLEY, BC - In an attempt to inspire Canadians to rise up against human trafficking, Tara Teng - Miss Canada 2011 and a fourth year education student at Trinity Western University - is taking her message on the road.
This summer she led Ignite the Road to Justice, a three-week tour to 10 cities across Canada. Its goal of the August 15 to September 4 event was to educate people about the prevalence of human trafficking and what they can do to help.
"Although Canada has taken steps towards change and ending human trafficking, there are still many Canadians who are blind to the reality of how widespread a problem this is," says Teng, who recently traveled California, Thailand and Cambodia speaking against the sex trade and meeting with women affected by the issue. "Human trafficking is in every community in Canada and if you aren't seeing it, you aren't looking for it."
Catalyzed by a Freedom Week initiative the 23-year-old led in her hometown of Langley, B.C., last spring, Ignite the Road to Justice was an effort to bring the same vision to communities across the country. Teng's message is the same wherever she goes. "Human trafficking must end."
During the tour, Teng was joined by fellow abolitionist Tania Fiolleau, recording artist Kevin Boese and a number of human-trafficking informants. "We are united by our passion to glorify Christ with our lives and His heart for the oppressed, exploited and abused," says Teng.
Following each Ignite the Road presentation, partners in each city provided resources for those desiring to learn more. "This gave people the unique opportunity to not only become educated, but to connect with organizations working in their own community," says Teng.
The goal of the tour - funded by individual donations - was to catalyze a powerful, unified grassroots movement which speaks up for the oppressed. And the response, adds Teng, was amazing. "We've seen people of all generations and walks of life choose to take a stand for justice and commit to working together for an end to human trafficking."
Teng - whose Miss Canada reign will conclude January 2012 - is interning with Member of Parliament Joy Smith this fall in an effort to further a bill aimed at abolishing the sex trade.
"I believe in big things," says Teng. "I am committed to doing whatever I can to help end human trafficking in Canada and around the world."
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