A group of Walnut Grove Secondary students has launched a project to get the Canadian government to take action on human trafficking and sexual slavery.
Anna Demian, a Grade 11 student, was first inspired after her sister made a trip to Cambodia three years ago.
She came back with stories of women and girls, some as young as three, who had been rescued from the sex trade.
"It shocked us completely," Demian said.
A recent trip of her own overseas just confirmed that she wanted to do something concrete. More research by Demian and her friends - Kendra Goodman, Claire Konrad, Allison Evans, and Kelsey Hari - showed that it was not a problem just in poorer countries, but here in Canada as well.
The young women were also inspired by the example of Tara Teng, a Fort Langley woman who was crowned Miss B.C. and Miss Canada last year.
The Trinity Western University student devoted her tenure as Miss Canada to raising awareness about human trafficking.
"The passion to make a change has been growing," said Evans.
They contacted Langley MP Mark Warawa and asked if they could meet him, and give him some letters about the issue. They planned to collect 1,000 letters from the students at Walnut Grove Secondary calling for change.
Warawa later agreed to meet them on Oct. 13.
The five young women, their friends, and teachers, then went into a high-speed campaign to gather as many letters as possible before the deadline.
The letters aren't form letters, but are unique to each student. The young women collected them after doing presentations in social studies classes, then in various other classes as more teachers at Walnut Grove requested they speak.
Two core themes of the letters are the need for a national strategy in Canada, and a plea to adopt the "Nordic model."
That's the notion that those who buy sex should be penalized more harshly than those who sell it.
Konrad said she was shocked to learn that in Canada you can get more time in prison for selling marijuana than for trafficking in humans - selling people.
The students have more than 300 letters so far, and they fully expect to hit their goal and present another 700 to Warawa within the year.
Walnut Grove has about 2,000 students, so they'll need one from every other student at the school.
Principal Jim Darby said the project has benefited from help from teachers, but it belongs to these students.
"It's just another indication of how amazing these guys are," he said. "A lot of kids today want to make the world a better place."
@ Copyright 2013