B.C. anti-child sex trafficking advocate, Cathy Peters, visited Chilliwack to motivate the community to help put an end to what she’s calling “The new pandemic: Child sex trafficking in B.C. and how we can stop it.” (Sarah Gawdin/The Progress)

Chilliwack’s children at risk for sex trafficking says B.C. anti-trafficking advocate

Cathy Peters wants Chilliwack to be a positive example for the province

A B.C. former teacher turned advocate wants to help “make Chilliwack an example for the rest of the province,” when it comes to putting an end to child sex trafficking.

Cathy Peters says she’s always had a soft-spot for children, but it wasn’t until her son began working for a Manitoba MP that the safety of children became her key priority.

As Peters explained, the school where she taught in Delta was near what’s called “a kiddie stroll. A place where children would walk up and down the street to sell their bodies.” So at that time, her goal was just to get her students to successfully complete Grade 10.

READ MORE: Chilliwack organization running on faith and donations

Today, her mission has expanded from getting kids to a certain point in their education, to preventing them from ever being sold into the sex trade. To do this, Peters has been presenting all over the province to police, city councils, schools, churches, and whomever else she can, to talk about what she’s calling a “new pandemic: child sex trafficking in B.C.”

In the past two-and-a-half years, Peters has presented to more than 180 groups free of charge.

“British Columbia is the best place in Canada and North America for sex buyers,” said Peters during her presentation in Chilliwack’s Neighbourhood Learning Centre on June 19.

READ MORE: Raising awareness about sexual exploitation

And Peters wants to make sure Chilliwack, with its close proximity to the American border, has its eyes wide open when it comes to the safety of the community’s children.

“Don’t fool yourselves,” she said, looking around at the dozens of people who attended her presentation. “You have a very big problem here. Don’t be surprised if you find prostitution rings in the high schools.

“Where children play, predators prey,” Peters said simply.

“Child sex trafficking is all about the money,” continued the retired schoolteacher. The average pimp, says Peters, can get anywhere from $280,000 to $360,000 per year per victim. And right now, the most popular commodity on the sex trade market are young, white girls between nine- and 14-years-old.

“And our aboriginal girls are getting destroyed by this,” added Peters.

Const. Isabelle Christensen, who has been a member of the RCMP for more than two decades, sat in on Peters’ discussion.

“I think when we hear human trafficking we think of something different than what it is,” said the community liaison officer. “We’d like to think we don’t have that problem in Chilliwack, but seeing how it’s defined, it’s more like the old version of prostitution and johns.”

And the best way to combat that model says Peters, is to focus on what she calls the “Two Es:” education and enforcement.

In 2014, Canada enacted Bill C-36, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, which made the buyers of sex criminals, and those selling sex victims. However, Peters says it’s poorly enforced, which has lit the region up like a beacon to those looking to buy illicit sex.

“Our federal government is on the trajectory to fully decriminalize prostitution … We already have johns who act with impunity …and this will lead to brothels in every community. We are headed for hundreds of (Robert) Picktons (at this rate),” continued Peters.

But even in the darkest of places, the smallest bit of light helps. And Peters says Chilliwack is primed to be a leader in ridding the province of this criminal blight.

“You have a great detachment here, work with them!” exclaimed Peters, who met with each of the city’s four watches over the course of a month to make her presentation. “Don’t take (issues) on personally, get the police involved.

“I hear all the time from police, ‘We just don’t get the reports.’ So I beg of you, report it,” Peters continued.

And while the police reports help tremendously, Peters says the other aspect of ending this pandemic is ensuring a community has the right services to help victims escape with their lives.

Having seen a lot in her career with the RCMP, Christensen says one of the most important things that she walked away from Peters’ presentation with was the resources we have available at our fingertips.

“It opened my eyes to the services we have,” said the community-based officer. “The possibility of help is there.”

For more information on the services Chilliwack has to offer, visit the local services website at www.comserv.bc.ca, or the Child and Youth services website: childandyouth.com.


@SarahGawdin
Sarah.Gawdin@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Children’s drawings brighten up Chilliwack business

Student artwork chosen for exterior vinyl wrap at graphics company

New Chilliwack film fest showcases teen cinematography

The inaugural Chilliwack Student Film Festival is open to kids in Grades 9 to 12

GW Graham students earn top award at Kiwanis convention

Key Club members logged 1,800 volunteer hours helping kids locally and globally

Bucket-list flight for Chilliwack grandmother

Hampton House resident treated to a beautiful plane ride in Moments that Matter

Midway companies all booked during fair dates Chilliwack council hears

Fair Board explains to council why midway won’t be back in the ‘Wack any time soon

VIDEO: RCMP reveal five kids hit in deadly B.C. crash

The children range in age from six to 17.

Stranger climbs onto B.C. family’s second-floor balcony, lights fire in barbecue

Incident in Abbotsford terrifies family with two-year-old boy

British Columbians are paying more for booze but also broccoli

Victoria’s inflation was 2.3 per cent, a tick above Vancouver’s of 2.2 per cent

UPDATED: Three dead in Surrey crash: police

Single-vehicle crash occurred around 10:30 a.m., police remain on-scene

Eviction halted for B.C. woman deemed ‘too young’ for seniors’ home

Zoe Nagler, 46, had been given notice after living in the seniors complex in Comox for six years

Coroner’s inquest announced for Victoria teen’s overdose death

Elliot Eurchuk was 16 years old when he died of an opioid overdose at his Oak Bay home

Military officer accused of sexual misconduct, drunkenness in B.C., Alberta

Warrant Officer Jarvis Kevin Malone is charged under the National Defence Act

Harbour Air to convert to all-electric seaplanes

Seaplane company to modify fleet with a 750-horsepower electric motor

Sailings cancelled after BC Ferries boat hits Langdale terminal

The Queen of Surrey is stuck on the dock, causing delays to Horseshoe Bay trips

Most Read