Winnipeg advocates stand up to fight modern slavery

Justache October's second annual 30-Hour Standoff begins Friday in downtown Winnipeg.

Justache October members to stand for 30 hours in Winnipeg to protest slavery, raise money to fund rescues

Justache October's founder and lead organizer, Jason Friesen. The group, whose supporters remove facial hair to raise attention to modern slavery during the month of October, will be hosting a 30-Hour Standoff Friday through Saturday in Winnipeg. (CBC)

Justache October's second annual 30-Hour Standoff begins Friday in downtown Winnipeg.

Members of the advocacy group will stand for 30 hours to bring attention to modern-day slavery around the world, such as forced child labour and human trafficking for the sex trade.

The hope is to raise $50,000 for International Justice Mission Canada. The group believes that amount would be enough to extract as many as 11 people from slavery.

"It's just a great opportunity to learn more about what is happening and the practical ways we can make a difference," said Justache October founder and lead organizer Jason Friesen.

International Justice Mission Canada (IJM) rescues adults and children held as slaves around the world by partnering with local law enforcement, said Friesen. The organization estimates as many as 36 million people may be working as slaves world-wide.

"There's Uganda, Guatemala, India, Cambodia," he said, "pretty much anywhere where [perpetrators] would find impunity."

Common forms of modern slavery also include situations where a worker, for example a labourer in one of India's many brick kilns, is barred from quitting over fears of physical violence or because they were tricked into spending years working off a loan, said Friesen.

"Perpetrator accountability is huge for International Justice Mission Canada," he said, "if it would be just rescue missions, the perpetrator would find someone else to enslave."

When children are rescued they are placed in "loving aftercare homes," said Friesen, and if the individual is an adult he or she receives counseling, as well as, potentially, small loans and training in new career skills.

Justache October's event starts on Portage avenue on Friday at noon and ends Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Anyone can join participants at any time during the Winnipeg event, Friesen said. 


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