An expert says that human trafficking is so prevalent in Canada, that no matter where you are, even a rural community, somebody is being trafficked within a kilometre.
On Thursday, the Joy Smith Foundation is having a free online launch for the National Human Trafficking Education Centre (NHTEC) at 7:00 pm.
"We have Paul Brandt, Steve Bell, Sheldon Kennedy [former NHL star], and so many different people speaking," says Joy Smith, the founder of the Joy Smith Foundation. "Survivors of human trafficking and so many people that are telling everyone, please learn about human trafficking because we don't want it to happen to anyone."
Other speakers include the Honorable Peter MacKay, Former Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Canadian rock singer Robb Nash, and former police officer and founder of Ratanak International, Brian McConaghy.
"The subject of human trafficking is very dark and can be scary. The incentive to learn about it is your children, your family, your community will be protected because you'll know the signs to look for. You'll know how traffickers operate."
A common misconception is that human trafficking doesn't happen in rural towns or Christian families. However, Smith shares that in the past three years, 95 per cent of the people who seek help after a child has been sexually exploited are from Christian rural Manitoban families.
"It's really sad when I see wonderful Christian families who've done everything to make their lives right in terms of walking with the Lord. Then all of a sudden this hideous thing comes upon them because they didn't know. It empowers families and youth to know about it because they're protected."
A number of years ago there was a big push to educate about 'Stranger Danger,' however, Smith says that traffickers aren't always strangers.
"The education done through the National Human Trafficking Education Centre is done very gracefully. Any family or student can listen to it. It's something not to be afraid of but embrace, to protect ourselves."
Smith encourages particularly people in positions of authority over children, such as parents, pastors, church leaders, and principals to get educated on what to watch for when it comes to how predators lure children and teens.
"We have a free Bible study that we will give away to any church, any pastor. In that study, there are survivors of human traffickers talking, even John's, about how they got lured. These are all people who grew up in Christian homes so it's very important for people to take up the fight to combat human trafficking. It's Biblically sound."
After the launch, anyone across Canada will be able to learn about human trafficking through the NHTEC.
"We're responsible for taking the leadership and protecting our families," says Smith. "It's scary when it happens to somebody. It's not scary to get the information to protect against families. It's not scary to stand firm against evil."