This past weekend World Financial Group, along with the Salvation Army, attempted to shine light on a topic that isn’t always acknowledged in the Okanagan.
A fundraiser, held in the parking lot of World Financial Group, gathered $2,082 for the Salvation Army’s program for victims of human trafficking.
World Financial Group will match funds raised, bringing the total to $4,164.
Sharon Tidd, associate pastor at the Salvation Army community church, said that making people aware of the problem is an important step.
“We see our role as trying to raise awareness. Most think of (human trafficking) as something that happens elsewhere in the world. But it is an issue in Canada and it’s definitely an issue in the United States. We have to deal with what happens in our backyard,” said Tidd.
Les Parks, branch manager of World Financial Group, said that the issue was unknown to him a few years ago.
“We were really surprised when we heard about it a couple years ago. We’ve always known that it’s been a problem in the bigger centres. To know about it in our smaller communities, we really want to help out with that,” said Parks.
Tidd said that World Financial Group’s determination to tackle the problem is inspiring.
“World Financial Group has a real passion for our fight against human trafficking. The funds that they raise today will go to our initiatives here and in B.C. We have a shelter in Vancouver for women that are trafficked, (it’s) an escape from that,” said Tidd.
“Here in Kelowna we’re working towards getting into the schools and trying to address the issue and make kids aware, because they’re vulnerable.”
Tidd said that the shelter in Vancouver has created positive change for victims.
“Usually we partner with police. They know the shelter is there and they will bring (victims) there,” he said.
“While they are there, they get legal support, they get counseling. Obviously anything they need as far as medical care, we arrange for that.
“Because a lot of them have been trafficked out of other countries, we work with them to either return or get situated in Canada if they want to stay.
“Those are the kinds of supports that we’re able to offer.”