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Wake up, show up, step up

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The True Story of Canadian Human Trafficking

Paul H. Boge

Castle Quay Books

Review by Madeline Van Hemert

What is the subject?

Madeline van Hemert

The haunting reality of human trafficking of Canadian girls within our nation. This book is a collaboration of stories about victims of human trafficking, johns (those who purchase sex), a trafficker, and one woman of power who worked in Parliament to pass three different bills that aim to combat the crime of human trafficking by protecting and empowering victims and ensuring those responsible are sentenced justly.

Who is the author?

Paul H. Boge, a professional engineer and member of North Kildonan MB Church, is the author of Hope for the Hopeless, and Father to the Fatherless, and other books.

Boge writes with authority, urgency, and a call to action.

Why this book?

I was drawn to this book despite an internal tension between the knowledge that human trafficking is a real issue, taking place in my own backyard, and that reading further would make me more angry and hurt.

I knew that reading this book would challenge the seriousness with which I believe in the love of Jesus. If I truly want to allow space for God to break my heart for what breaks his, I need to educate myself to the brokenness in this world rather than turn a blind eye. As someone who works directly with children, youth, and vulnerable persons, I knew that this would be uncomfortably relevant.

Comment on the book’s theological perspective in light of the Confession of Faith

Article 10 – Discipleship: “Disciples treat others with compassion and gentleness and reject violence as a response to injustice.” Over and over, the book demonstrates the tension between caring for those being trafficked and rejecting the power of trafficking within Canada.

The book’s target message is to not turn a blind eye to rampant injustices; instead, love like Jesus in everyday life. Seek justice, love mercy, and walk in humble obedience (Micah 6:8).

Another alignment with the Confession is with Article 12 – Society and State: As Christians we are to work with our government to ensure the well being of all, “defend[ing] the weak…promot[ing] justice….and witness[ing] against corruption, discrimination and injustice.”

Key insight

Canada has made some crucial steps in the right direction; however, this battle has just begun. “The true north strong and free” has some heavy lifting to do to ensure that vulnerable people, especially young girls, are not victims of human trafficking. The fact that girls from all demographics, socio-economic statuses, and family make-ups are vulnerable to being trafficked is horrifying. Some have started to speak out, raise awareness, and fight for justice.

This book challenges the reader to follow people who have started to speak out, raise awareness and fight for justice. It calls for a combination of determination to continue showing up and allowing space for God to move.

Shortcoming/downside

Most of the stories in this book end with a somewhat positive result. Unfortunately, research and news headlines show that the ending of the story for many victims of human trafficking is rather horrific, gruesome, and fatal.

Who should read it:

Parents. Teachers. Youth Leaders. Emergency Response Workers. Sisters. Brothers.

The stories make it clear that no one is completely removed from the reach of human trafficking. This book is a cry for all Canadian citizens to wake up, show up, and step up.

After reading this book, I am faced with a challenge to start making change through conversation. I have already had many conversations with co-workers and church leaders, inspiring them to explore what change would look like in my home region.

I encourage others to read this book, then extend your own awareness by learning what your region’s police force and health care and social services are doing about this situation.

Other relevant info:

The book concludes with references for further learning about human trafficking and services and programs for support.

The MP whose story is shared is now working through her own foundation to support survivors and to educate the public.

Favourite quotes:

“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” [Quoting William Wilbrrforce]

“Canada can’t afford to lose this battle.”

“How sick have we gotten as a culture when a man forces a girl to be raped thousands of times, makes money off of her, and we’re having a debate about whether he should be put in prison for five years. My God in Heaven. How did we sink this low?”


Madeline Van Hemert
is a member of Southridge Community Church in St. Catharines, Ont. She has spent the last five years involved in Southridge’s homeless shelter in both volunteer and staff capacities. She is currently an Occasional Teacher with the public school board in the region. She is a participant in the Leaders Collective, a leadership development program of the Ontario MB conference.

Read also

Confronting an insidious crime

9 ways to fight human trafficking

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