In late June, we received beautiful stories of faith from teacher Barb Van Pelt at Laurentian Hills Christian School in Kitchener Ontario. The stories were written by Grade 7 and Grade 8 students at the school. We will run them over the course of the summer on the Thread of 1000 stories. We hope you'll enjoy the innocence, the honesty and the deep attachment these eloquent young Canadians have to their faith, and the faith of those who inspire them. We also hope they will move you to share your story of faith with us on the Thread. And don't forget to check out our $5000 Golden Thread contest for Canadians 30 and younger.
Joy Smith became a politician to make laws regarding human trafficking, after she was moved to action by witnessing the dramatic physical and mental toll it took on her son, a police officer, who worked in the ICE Unit (Integrated Child Exploitation Unit), a specialized police force training in rescuing children from child predators. Her son’s courage proved to Joy Smith that ordinary Canadians, like herself, can stand up to human trafficking.
Smith committed herself to the fight against human trafficking and worked to raise awareness and rescue victims. She soon discovered a tragedy that trafficking victims knew all too well - -Canada was considered a haven for predators. Joy Smith wanted to change this, so she became a Member of Parliament in 2004. Since then, she has been the only politician in history to have amended the Criminal Code twice as a Private Member, both times to protect victims of human trafficking.
Joy Smith is a mother of six, and a former math and science teacher. She also wrote two books, Lies My Kid’s Teacher Told Me in 1996, and a follow-up book entitled, Tools of the Trade a few years later. Smith has received many awards for the work she does. In 2014, she won a Commendation Award from the Winnipeg Police Force, which she was recognized for her assistance in a specific case of human trafficking that spanned over four years . The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs presented a red shawl to Joy Smith, which recognized her work on the issue of human trafficking in Indigenous communities in 2014. She also won the Joy Award from the Soroptimist International of Edmonton in 2015. She then went on to win the Together We Can Award in 2016, and the Outstanding Citizen Award as well in 2016.
After serving as an MP for a decade, Joy Smith resigned from politics to focus on The Joy Smith Foundation, which is a registered charity that works to stop human trafficking through raising awareness and helping victims. Although human trafficking has been present for decades, people have only become aware of the problem in recent years. The foundation has recently been developing an in-school program to help educate youth and parents on how to protect themselves against predators, how to recognize the signs of a trafficker, and how to report any potential traffickers. Because the physical and emotional consequences of human trafficking is so great, the best thing that can happen is to educate children so we can prevent it from happening in the first place. For this reason, Joy Smith representatives are constantly on the road educating youth and teens across the country. They have visited over 17 places to help raise awareness on the dangers of human trafficking, including Halifax, Ottawa, Fredericton, Winnipeg, Calgary, Belleville and many more.
Joy Smith’s faith in God is what motivates her to make a change her community. She says, “Basically everything I’ve ever done has been based on the faith I have in God… And I’ve always called upon God to give me direction on what to do. So really we just have to be willing. He’s the one that has done all the work. We just have to be willing and then we have to build character along the way to stick to things that have to be stuck to when he calls you to do it.” She often references faith as what motivated her to do politics, and says that it was God’s calling for her to pursue politics to help human trafficking victims. She also says, “I’ve always done things according to where God has wanted me to be. I pray all the time. My faith and my God were everything to me.”
Thank you, Joy Smith, for all the work you do to protect Canadian children and teens in your community. Thank you for helping to raise awareness, so that everyone can play a role in stopping it. I admire your courage and determination, because even ordinary Canadians can make a difference.