A University of Manitoba Student group spent a week in their pyjamas to raise awareness about Winnipeg’s sex trade workers.
Segue, a Christian student group concerned with righting social injustices, hosted Pyjama Week from Jan. 28 to Feb 1 to encourage students at the U of M to bring human trafficking and exploitation in Winnipeg to the forefront of their minds.
The group also collected pairs of pyjamas, blankets and pillows, socks and underwear, and other items to donate to the Salvation Army’s SNOW (Safe Night off Winnipeg Streets) Night.
SNOW night provides women involved in the sex trade a special night free from violence, harm, hunger and exploitation and connects them to programs and services provided by community partners and the Salvation Army.
"The whole point is to wear pyjamas to create conversation, and collect pyjams to help those in need," said Tammy Junghans, a Native Studies student and founder of Segue. "Pyjamas speak to us about comfort, security, innocence and childhood – those things that a lot of individuals in the sex trade count as luxuries."
The week-long event kicked off with public lectures on human trafficking and exploitation from a number of women’s advocates.
Among them was Bridget Perrier, who works with Sex Trade 101 in Ontario and was trafficked by a family member at 12-years-old.
Junhans said the speakers were well received by the crowd of more than 100 people who attended the lectures.
"I think story and imagery are powerful. We should not be afraid to voice our opinions and fight for those who need to have their voices heard," Junhans said.
Junghans added while last year, Segue operated the Freedom 10x6 Project and raised over $18,000 to bring freedom and hope to victims of human trafficking internationally, this year the group wanted to focus on the issue locally.
"It’s really easy to go that route. Looking locally, it’s harder for people to look in their own backyard. They may need to make some choices and change some of their ways," Junghans said.
Segue will continue to raise awareness on the topic of trafficking through their bag and art design contest for Freeset, an India-based bag company which offers employment to help women trapped in the sex trade.
Junghans said Segue is holding a contest for students and faculty to create new designs to share with Freeset.
"(With more designs)they’re going to be able to make more money to help more women," Junghans said.
While the contest is only open to students and faculty, Segue is open to receiving designs from the public to be donated to Freeset.
Junghans said she also encourages people to duplicate what Segue is doing and start their own design contests for Freeset.
For more information on Segue go to segueuofm.com. For more information on Freeset go to freesetglobal.com.