Dominique Holley is onto her next phase of shining a light on human trafficking. Photo from Facebook

Bike journey puts a focus on trafficking

By 
  • November 8, 2019

OTTAWA -- To take on the scourge of human trafficking you have to first recognize that it is happening here.

And one young woman with a passion for social justice issues has made it her goal to be one of the voices sounding the alarm that in 2019 human trafficking is indeed an issue that has to be tackled head on in her home province of Ontario.

“It is extremely easy to under-appreciate the impact that you can make if you get involved,” said Dominique Holley, 29, as she continued her effort to do just that — get involved.

One phase of that was completed on Nov. 2 as she completed a 1,100-kilometre journey that she started at the beginning of October, biking her way along the 401 highway corridor from Windsor to Ottawa. She stopped in communities along the way to speak to social justice, religious and community groups and do media interviews in a self-financed effort to raise awareness about human trafficking and hear the stories of anyone she came across along her route.

Now it’s on to the next phase in which she eventually hopes to create a documentary or web series about human trafficking in Ontario.

“I want to be a voice and make a difference for people who often do not have a voice,” she told Canadian Catholic News at the final bike tour event at Celebration Church in Ottawa, where she spoke of her experiences along the tour.

Making a difference is something that Holley learned early.

Her parents at one time were missionairies, and she credits her parents’ lifelong dedication to social justice causes as the spark that kindled her desire to do the same. 

Human trafficking, the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labour, sexual slavery or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others, is increasingly being dragged into the spotlight in Ontario, where recent high profile arrests have been made.

On World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on July 30, Ontario Children and Women’s Issues Associate Minister Jill Dunlop said that about two-thirds of human trafficking in Canada reported to police takes place in Ontario and that the 400-series of highways in the province is a key pipeline for human trafficking.

Holley, who’s interest in human trafficking started when she wrote a high school essay on human trafficking in India, has since educated herself that the issue affects her home province and, after she learned that, she started getting involved by volunteering with groups that focus on the issue, which eventually led to her bike tour, Be The One — Ride to End Human Trafficking.

“My goal is really to educate and draw awareness to human trafficking,” Holley said, adding that the tour is really part of at least a two-year process.

“If you take one small action after one small action, then that adds up and the next thing you know there are many voices speaking out and that is how things change,” she said. “Awareness without action leads to apathy.”

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