by Tobin Ng
Clad in black and marching silently in single file, the demonstrators filled the streets of downtown Ottawa to raise awareness about modern-day slavery.
Over 200 Ottawans walked from city hall to Parliament Hill during the yearly Walk for Freedom on Saturday.
Brunette Katombe, who also took part in the walk last year, said the event is an effective way to draw the attention of passersby.
“You can’t help but take a look and wonder what’s going on,” said Katombe. “That’s the whole point of the walk, to get the conversation starting on human trafficking.”
The campaign is run by A21, a non-profit organization that operates around the world to fight human trafficking by providing services for victims and educating the public. This is the third year that Hillsong Ottawa, a local church, has partnered with A21 to bring the event to Ottawa.
“I think a lot of people don’t realize how apparent and how on the rise slavery is today,” said Caleb Davidson, a key organizer of the event and a lead pastor at Hillsong Ottawa. “We’re helping to raise a voice around that and to raise finances to continue to fight it on the front lines.”
The march is one of over 400 similar events taking place across the globe in 50 cities.
Elizabeth Ojo, who attends Hillsong Ottawa, reflected on the importance of hosting the event in Canada’s capital.
“It’s really cool for us, being in Ottawa, because we get the chance to walk in a central location right where our government is [located],” said Ojo, “It’s really important that we’re aware of these things and know the part that we play, whether it’s the way we vote or how we get involved in our local politics.”
Tobi Oluwole, who has participated in the event for the second year in a row, noted the power of the event as a means of educating the public about a commonly overlooked issue.
“I love how simple it is. You just walk and people start to Google and find out about human trafficking,” he said. “There are so many people coming out who are just seeing and hearing about it online and through social media.”
So far, according to Ottawa’s event page, over $1 000 has been raised through this year’s walk. The fundraising page will be open for donations until October 31st.
“Every single year [the walk has] taken on more steam,” said Davidson. “We’re excited. I think we’re going to be doing it every year here on out as far as I can see.”