Woman cycling 1,100 km to raise awareness of human trafficking

first_imgDominique Holley was raised by parents who were passionate about social justice issues.It was a passion that inspired the 29-year-old Toronto woman to also take action to help others.Holley arrived in Chatham Wednesday as part of her 1,100-kilometre bicycle tour – Be The One – Ride to End Human Trafficking – that follows the Highway 401 corridor from Windsor to Ottawa, where many of these crimes take place.Her journey began Tuesday in Windsor and ends in Ottawa on Oct. 31, with stops in 26 cities, including Sarnia on Wednesday and London on Thursday night. She will be taking part in a community discussion on human trafficking at the Locomotive Espresso cafe in London at 408 Pall Mall St. at 6 p.m. on Friday. No event was planned for Sarnia.“It’s more of a really casual community feeling, where I talk about why I’m doing it, what human trafficking looks like, and we just have a conversation about what everyone, in their own way, can do to fight human trafficking,” Holley said.She first learned about human trafficking when working on a Grade 11 project that focused on the issue in a more global sense.“I remember thinking, ‘If it was happening in Canada I’d do something about it,’” Holley said.When she learned four years ago that human trafficking was happening in Ontario, she began researching the issue and volunteering with organizations that help victims.“My primary goal is really to educate and draw awareness to human trafficking,” Holley said, rather than having her tour be a fundraiser.If people would like to donate, she suggests they contribute to an organization in their community that fights human trafficking.When talking with people about this issue, Holley said she usually hears “Oh, I didn’t realize it was happening in Ontario.’”She added many people believe human trafficking is a situation that involves someone being kidnapped and held against their will.While that does happen in a small percentage of cases, Holley said that’s not what human trafficking primarily looks like in Ontario.Citing the fact more than 90 per cent of the victims are female, she noted one common type of trafficker is called a “Romeo pimp,” who develops a romantic relationship with the victim.“There’s a lot of emotional and mental manipulation and so often the victims are very emotionally attached to their trafficker,” Holley said.She realizes people can be overwhelmed when hearing about this crime and feel they don’t know what they can do to help.“What I’m really passionate about – which is why it’s called Be The One – is everyone can take one step,” she said.Holley said this “one step” could include parents calling on their local high schools to provide education about human trafficking or nurses advocating for workplace training on the signs of victimhood.“If everybody used their voice and took one small step, it would create a tidal wave of change,” she said.More details about the tour can be found at www.betheone.love and on Facebook at [email protected]last_img