By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News
Following Saturday morning Mass at St. Mary Parish in Saskatoon June 11, members of the parish’s Catholic Women’s League gathered with parishioners and supporters on the church steps to reflect on the devastation of human trafficking, and to pray for victims around the world and in our own community.
During the ceremony, those in attendance were invited to sprinkle red sand in the cracks of the sidewalk in front of the church to provide a visual image of the blood of Christ poured out for all, remembering in particular all those who have fallen through the cracks, trapped and enslaved by human traffickers.
Too often we are unaware of how the often-hidden scourge of human trafficking affects all our lives and communities, participants heard.
“Some of the food we eat may be harvested or prepared by women and men, girls and boys, bent over in long labour, who themselves are hungry or starving. We may be wearing articles of clothing or using a cell phone that was produced in a factory where workers are forced into assembly lines for excruciatingly long hours, seven days a week and for meagre wages that will not provide for their families,” read one of the presenters.
“We may be wearing a beautiful diamond that was mined by men who were forced into labour or lost their young sons to militia movements that foce these boys to execute unimaginable violence within their communities. A house down the street may be a place where young women and girls are taken to be sexually exploited.”
Many victims are unable to break free, participants heard.
“After drug dealing, human trafficking is tied with the illegal arms trade as the second largest criminal industry in the world, and it is the fastest growing.”
IWIN backpack project
In addition to leading the prayer service featuring the symbolism of the red sand, the CWL provided information about the IWIN program — which stands for “I’m Worth It Now.”
IWIN works with human trafficking investigators and survivor support programs such as Hope Restored Saskatchewan and Reset Society of Calgary, assembling and providing backpacks of necessities for survivors of human trafficking.
“The backpacks, containing all brand new items, include a change of clothes, toiletry items, a handwritten card of encouragement and a bracelet. A matching bracelet is given to a volunteer prayer warrior to support the survivor through prayer,” explains the IWIN website.
IWIN is working with members of the Catholic Women’s League of Canada to facilitate the backpack initiative. “IWIN is a perfect fit under all three pillars of the Catholic Women’s League: faith, service and social justice,” notes the website.
“As awareness grows of the modern day tragedy of human trafficking, we are called to move into action,” participants heard at the end of the Red Sand Service. “We must write letters and advocate to governments to continue to find ways to end human trafficking and provide services and support for its victims. We must create social awareness and educate the public.”
In conclusion, those gathered observed a minute of silence “to honour those children of God living in the darkness of trafficking, and to ask our Heavenly Father for the courage to speak out and take action to bring justice to His land and to His people.”
After the red sand ceremony, the parish CWL hosted a strawberry social in St. Mary Parish Hall.