Kitchener-Waterloo·Photos

Guelph Collegiate Yarn Club casting light on human trafficking

A small group of staff and students at Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute are helping to increase the community's awareness of human trafficking one pearl stitch at a time.

Club knitting squares for giant blanket, to be displayed on Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute's Yarn Club has been knitting and crocheting squares for It Takes A Knitwork. (Melanie Ferrier/CBC)

A small group of staff and students at Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute are helping to increase the community's awareness of human trafficking one purl stitch at a time. 

The Yarn Club is making 20 centimetre knitted or crocheted squares to send to Guelph Wellington Women in Crisis for the organization's It Takes A Knitwork initiative.

When the organization has enough squares – they're aiming for 500 – they will sew them together into one giant blanket to be displayed on Human Trafficking Awareness Day in Feb., 2019.

The group's organizer, Lori Lutes, says introducing the students to the issue of human trafficking is important, because this is something that affects them and their community. (Melanie Ferrier/CBC)

"I have definitely had some students that have gotten involved in human trafficking or have been close to getting involved," said Lori Lutes, a social worker at the school and one of the staff leaders of the group knitting the squares.

"It's an important thing for them to know around their safety, because I think they think ... they're invincible."

For some of the group members who have been knitting or crocheting for years, the initiative was an eye-opening way to get involved in their community. 

Student Lyna Tran says she likes the idea of using her skill to raise awareness. (Melanie Ferrier/CBC)

"I never really thought I could raise awareness doing something I like to do," said student Lyna Tran, who admits she's the sort of person who has knitting needles in her hands all the time.

"I was very interested in it – just like having squares and sewing them all together into a big blanket. It's like everyone's work is contributing to one thing."

And even students who aren't hard-core knitters are getting into the spirit, like Uvaleria Nauvarro, an exchange student from Mexico who is just learning how to knit.

Guelph Wellington Women in Crisis is hoping to get 500 squares that will be sewn together into a massive blanket in February. (Melanie Ferrier/CBC)

"Knitting is not just having fun," she said. "It can also help another person. That's amazing – to make a hobby [into] something to help the community."

So far, Guelph Wellington Women in Crisis estimates they've received around 300 squares from knitters in the community. 

Members of the Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute Yarn Club talk to reporter Melanie Ferrier about their reasons for participating in It Takes A Knitwork, an initiative of Guelph Wellington Women in Crisis. 5:20

"Lots of people are very excited," said Emma Callon, human trafficking counsellor. 

"I feel overwhelmed by the amount of squares that are coming in and I'm hoping somebody who has experienced trafficking is going to be overwhelmed by the support that our community is offering." 

She said people who knit or crochet can keep sending squares to her until Feb. 1, 2019. 

After that, she and a few helpers will sew the squares together so that the blanket will be ready to be displayed on Feb. 22.

Clarifications

  • An earlier version of this story misspelled purl stitch.
    Dec 18, 2018 10:42 AM ET

About the Author

Melanie Ferrier is a radio and digital reporter with CBC News in Kitchener, Ont. You can email her at melanie.ferrier@cbc.ca.