Mission’s inaugural Walk for Freedom took place along First Avenue on Saturday (Oct. 16). Joining in the walk were (from left to right) Kate Pankratz, Coun. Ken Herar and Kristen Loney. / Submitted Photo

Mission’s inaugural Walk for Freedom took place along First Avenue on Saturday (Oct. 16). Joining in the walk were (from left to right) Kate Pankratz, Coun. Ken Herar and Kristen Loney. / Submitted Photo

Mission’s inaugural Walk for Freedom passes through downtown core

Foundation’s goal is the abolition of human trafficking and exploitation

Mission’s inaugural Walk for Freedom took place along First Avenue on Saturday (Oct. 16).

A small group volunteers distributed pamphlets and window placards, in an effort to bring awareness for their foundation.

“We were grateful to welcome dozens of Mission residents as they joined us and other freedom walkers in 13 nations to advocate for the abolition of human trafficking and exploitation,” said Kate Pankratz, executive director, of the Mission Coalition We Thrive Foundation.

“An issue of increasing concern in Canadian communities. Statistics Canada states two in 10 children have been sexually exploited this year, one in five women will be sexually exploited by the age of 28, and one in 75, 000 Canadians will be sex trafficked this year, 54% of all of the individuals being Indigenous women and girls.

“Due to the devious nature of exploitation and the fact that there are very few counter exploitation policing units, these statistics are only a modest representation of the reality.”

Pankratz also said since the foundation’s research began, two year’s ago, “numerous Mission residents have shared with us their heartbreaking stories of living and witnessing exploitation and trafficking, today we walked for them.

Mission Coun. Ken Herar participated in the event, saying he was inspired last summer when Pankratz made a presentation to council

“The subject alone along with the statistics are deeply concerning to me.”

Herar added he was proud to take part in the walk that helped share the message and build awareness in defending the vulnerable.

“This type of exploitation is inexcusable.”