Tara Teng, Miss Canada 2011 is really putting her crown to good use. She is currently on a 10-city tour titled ‘Ignite the Road to Justice’ aimed at educating, and advocating participation to end human trafficking that kicked off August 15th in Vancouver. The tour is set to end in Toronto from September 2-4.
Teng, a fourth year education student at Trinity Western University, is joined on tour by former Madam and fellow abolitionist Tania Fiolleau, recording artist Kevin Boese, and others advocating the end human trafficking. The team will partner with organizations in each community community to hold events that provide opportunities to educate and stimulate participation to fight humantrafficking. Its goal: “to ignite a powerful, unified, grassroots movement that speaks up for the oppressed.”
Prior to this tour, Teng spent the summer traveling through California, Thailand, and Cambodia to visit and work with women affected by human trafficking. She also spoke on behalf of Dalit Freedom Network Canada to highlight the plight of this high risk and often discriminated group.
“I find when you hear about social justice problems you immediately think, ‘That’s awful,’ but the more you learn about it,” she says, “the more you have to start asking yourself hard questions like, ‘How have I directly or indirectly contributed to this injustice?'”
When Teng and her father, Terry, went to Cambodia in partnership with the advocacy group Traffic Jam, they stayed in some of the cities’ red-light districts. “I went to listen and to get a sense of what’s going on in order to come back and share their stories,” she says.
In June, she spoke at the MTV Freedom Concert in Thailand, in support of the music station’s EXIT to end exploitation and trafficking campaign. The concert brought together Teng’s largest audience yet, a crowd of nearly 40,000 people. The following month, she passed along her Miss BC title; her Miss Canada reign will continue until January 2012. “At the end of that term, I feel like that chapter in my life will come to a close, and I’ll be able to focus more of my attention on the things I’m really passionate about,” she says.
This fall, as a student at TWU’s Laurentian Leadership Centre in Ottawa, Teng will intern with Member of Parliament Joy Smith. Smith has gained support for a new bill that aims to abolish thesextrade by targeting its market.
“I believe in big things,” says Teng. “Last semester, I poured myself into the planning of Freedom Week and spoke at numerous awareness engagements.”
Since then, Teng has been able to look back at the ripple effects caused by her work. She has seen churches declare themselves justice churches, working on their own social justice projects and events; students at a Walnut Grove school write and present letters to MP Mark Warawa; and the beginning of a regular dialogue for Langley stakeholders to address how to take practical steps to traffick-proof the community.
Visit ignitetheroadtojustice.com to support Tara Teng and her fellow abolitionists.
To learn more about Tara Teng’s activities, read her blog at impact.twu.ca
Compiled with files from Trinity Western University