Community

Tara Teng continues to shine a light on human trafficking

Miss Canada 2011 Tara Teng and Todd Hauptman hosted Wake Up: A Night Against Exploitation, at Langley Township Hall to raise awareness of human trafficking in Langley and around the world.   - Miranda GATHERCOLE/Langley Times
Miss Canada 2011 Tara Teng and Todd Hauptman hosted Wake Up: A Night Against Exploitation, at Langley Township Hall to raise awareness of human trafficking in Langley and around the world.
— image credit: Miranda GATHERCOLE/Langley Times

Sex trafficking doesn’t happen only in big cities or Third World countries, it happens right here in Langley, says Tara Teng, Miss Canada 2011 and a sex trafficking abolitionist.

It is this message that she wants to spread to as many people as possible through workshops such as the “Wake Up: A Night Against Exploitation” event held on Jan. 19  at Township Hall.

Teng, along with Todd Hauptman and Langley Youth Unlimited, hosted the event, which included a screening of the documentary Enslaved and Exploited: The Story of Sex Trafficking in Canada and a panel discussion with both Langley mayors, social workers and a police officer.

The issue of sexual exploitation is often overlooked and hushed away, the Trinity Western University grad says, and the key to ending it is through education.

“Eduation is really the biggest thing because a lot of people don’t know. How do you move forward? We need action. Everyone knows that talk is cheap. We want action and to get that we need awareness first. That is the most powerful thing,” she said.

With Langley RCMP Superintendent Derek Cooke, members of both Langley councils, board of education members and members of the general public in the audience, Teng believes Langley is one of the leading communities supporting the abolition of illegal sex trafficking.

After a suggestion from an audience member, she and other communitiy groups are now hoping to establish a task force within Langley to bring this issue to the forefront and take action against it.

“It’s time to break the silence, it’s time to talk about it and have action,” she said.  “I am encouraged because Langley is stepping up, they are doing that and it’s not just Todd and myself and that is really, really encouraging.

“We can make that reputation. We can change. We can set the precedents here and make history by becoming the first community model across Canada that is doing this.

“We can be the role models and leaders for other communities to follow suit.”

Teng’s hope is that once people are educated about the issue, they will start to make changes within their communities.

“Once you are aware, be involved. Be the eyes and ears in your community, kind of like how there is Block Parents. Step up and just be part of it. Take the initiative upon yourself. These are our children in our communities,” she said.

For more on Tara Teng and her quest to end illegal sex trafficking, visit www.tarateng.wordpress.com.

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