As darkness continues to shorten our daytime hours, at least in the northern hemisphere, we also prepare to receive new Light and Life after the Winter Solstice. Reflections are offered for this time of transition.
Day 1: Awareness hopefully leads to action. I continue Advocacy for the elimination of sexual exploitation, knowing there are many worthy causes. Some are working to save our planet, others for economic security. Some want us to eat healthy and exercise regularly. Many families, already dedicated to providing a secure home for their children, are also busy with extra-curricular activities.
Through all these wonderful endeavors, I hope my words will find fertile ground and remind the world of equality and dignity as underlying principles.
Day 2: BuyingSexIsACrime.org is a website founded in 2018 to promote Canadian legislation. The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, passed in 2014, denounces the commodification and objectification of the human body and specifically criminalizes the purchase of sexual services.
On January 1, 1999, Sweden became the first country in the world to address the root cause of sexual exploitation by targeting consumer demand. The Law That Prohibits the Purchase of Sexual Services, known as the Nordic model, has since been adapted by many countries, including Canada. Those wishing to read more about the Swedish experience may access Shadow’s Law (2016) by Simon Haggstrom.
Day 3: CEASE, the Edmonton Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation, is an exemplary grass-roots organization working to heal harm at individual, family, and community levels. It was incorporated as a non-profit society in 1997 from the work of concerned citizens, community agencies, and courageous survivors.
CEASE administers the Sex Trade Offender Program (See Day 19) and has developed a range of practical supports for survivors. Please visit ceasenow.org for more information about this remarkable agency.
Day 4: DefendDignity.ca is another website dedicated to ending sexual exploitation in Canada. Commercialized venues involving the sale of sexual services are believed to undermine the dignity of all citizens and the health of society.
The essence of dignity is having control over one’s own body while participating in the world community as a free and equal member.
Day 5: EqualityNow.org promotes a just world for women and girls and provides a number of fact sheets covering topics such as female genital mutilation, sexual violence, and sex trafficking.
The Equality approach to prevention considers human rights and gender equality. This means developing laws which (1) hold accountable all participants in the exploitation chain – buyers, pimps, brothel owners, etc. and (2) support vulnerable service “providers” who may be trapped by poverty, abuse or coercion.
Day 6: Freedom is reciprocal universal respect so that the integrity of one person is never abused or violated by another.
True friendship is very important. Friends are people who laugh together, have fun together, support each other, and share hopes and dreams. Healthy fun with family and friends helps prevent vulnerability. Unfortunately, predators posing as friends often take advantage of insecure young people.
Day 7: Generosity of spirit is one of my favorite attributes and a quality I try to achieve. Generosity can be expressed as a simple smile of acceptance, gracious hospitality, accommodation of differences, willingness to teach or mentor, or a desire to welcome others.
Generosity comes from an attitude of gratitude, contentment within oneself, a trust in the benevolent nature of the universe, and a belief that sharing will enhance rather than diminish what we already have.
Day 8: Happiness is the purpose of life according to the Dali Lama, as I recall from reading an article. The bigger question is how to achieve happiness – material possessions, power, service, or a compassionate and open heart?
Open-heart qualities include candid and honest communication, the ability to listen, good will, magnanimity, generosity, warmth, kindness, consideration, gentleness, and understanding.
Day 9: Inspiration is the seemingly magical elevation of one’s thoughts or emotions by an external source. This can come from the love and acceptance of family and friends, the beauty of nature, the vastness of the ocean, the infinite wonder of a starry sky, musical compositions which stir the soul, the magnificence of artistic creations, the excellence of achievement, communal spirit, and public service.
I recently watched a sappy Christmas movie about an angel sent to earth who fell in love and decided to stay on as a human. It makes me wonder if there are angels among us. I received a message from a friend of Cara, remembering her from over 20 years ago. “She had a big personality and a big laugh,” he said. “She was one of those people who come into your life who you just don’t forget.”
Day 10: Joy Smith is an inspirational woman. As a member of parliament from 2004 to 2015, she worked to amend the Criminal Code to better protect victims from human trafficking. In 2011, she established the Joy Smith Foundation to raise awareness and provide support to organizations.
The Joy Smith Foundation team has developed a documentary “Human Trafficking: Canada’s Secret Shame” and a school program for grades 8-12. Their next goal is to expand the program for grades 5-7. Please see their website for further information.
Day 11: Kindness is the lady who offered to stop bidding against me at a Spirit of Spring fundraiser when I asked if we could share a vision for the digital billboard offered by Pattison Signs. I was interested in promoting my new MissingCara.ca website but had limited funds.
Kindness is the donor advisors at Edmonton Community Foundation who heard and encouraged my hope to create an endowment fund in memory of my daughter. Further kindness is featuring my efforts in their Winter 2018 magazine. See below. Many thanks to all involved.
Day 12: Legacy in Action is the magazine of Edmonton Community Foundation. ECF was founded by Edmontonians to reinvest in their community and has been active since 1989. Since that time, more than $170 million has been granted to support charities. I am proud to be a small part of that movement.
The Winter 2018 Legacy in Action includes an article, “Caring about every Cara,” which describes some of my efforts. It also encourages other philanthropic individuals with modest mean to come forward with their legacy ideas.