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Congratulations to the Winners of the 2024 Modern Slavery Human Trafficking Awareness Ontario Division Poetry Contest!

"During Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month in January 2024, the Ontario division initiated a poetry contest, which offered opportunities to give voice to issues that are often silenced. The contest yielded very creative, honest, and heart-felt responses from across Canada, and as far away as Ireland. The contest originally contained an Indigenous Focus category. Honouring the first-person experience of indigenous people is incredibly important, and as such, future contest directives will be clear in this regard. The winning poems may evoke many feelings: hope/despair, empowerment/fear, realization/shame, inspiration/disappointment. The way that poetry stirs emotions and promotes deep thinking is exactly why this contest was created. The invitation to readers is to prayerfully consider situations they may have previously avoided, to dare to put themselves in the shoes of those experiencing suffering and oppression, and to explore the ways that they can contribute to the abolition of slavery of all kinds, in Canada, and around the world. Many thanks go out to all the poets who thoughtfully and bravely shared their work. May God continue to use their words to challenge and inform the world of God’s heart for justice."

—Major Carolyn Simpson
Modern Slavery & Human Trafficking Response Advocate – Ontario/Contest Creator

Click the category below to see the winning poetry submission for the 2024 Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Ontario Division Poetry Contest.

Category: Spirit of the Contest

Take Two

She’s pretty
She’s plain
She’s vulnerable
She’s feisty

She’s a stranger
She’s a daughter
She may be the one you think, “not her”

No matter what….no matter who
It’s always time….to take two

Two hours to learn
Two seconds to see
Two minutes to weep
Two years to break free

There’s a scourge going on
That’s hidden from sight

There’s more than we see
there’s much to make right

Together we can
Make a difference for those

Whose rights are abused
Whose lives are on hold

Will you join in the fight?
Will you see with new eyes?
Will you hold out your hand
And say, “Here, take mine?”

by: Mary read Horton

Provided with permission within the framework of ethical storytelling.

Poster of Take Two poem PDF. Image shows An old-fashion camera with film coming out of it.

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Category: Labour Trafficking

Echoes of Compassion

In shadows deep, where darkness creeps,
human trafficking, a secret it keeps.
A serious crime, a world betrayed,
where freedom's stolen, dignity swayed.

A global epidemic, hidden from sight.
Men, women, children, their dreams
are no longer in sight forced across borders,
into horrors they're torn.

In shadows they suffer, a world unaware,
silent cries echo, burdened by despair.
Lost in the chaos, their voices unheard,
seeking refuge, in a world so absurd.

Eyes that sparkled, now dimmed by despair,
Trapped in a web, no noise left to spare.
For every victim, is a story untold,
the money of the trade is a bitter stronghold.

Oh listen world! to the echoes of pain,
the silent screams in the pouring rain.
Behind closed doors, where the shadows dance,
a fight for freedom, is a desperate chance.

Education, outreach, conversations bold,
myths dispelled, truth to unfold.
Communities armed with knowledge so vast
to take action and act fast.

Raise your voice, let compassion ignite,
against the darkness, let our love unite.
Break the chains, for awareness to shine bright,
for every soul lost, let us fiercely fight.

Empowerment begins with knowledge and grace,
understanding signs, a vital race.
In empathy's symphony, our melody unfolds

With strength we rise for lives that were unjustly stole.
Let justice stand tall in evil's face,
compassion, love and hope leave its trace.

by: Faith Jacob

Provided with permission within the framework of ethical storytelling.

Poster of Echo of Compassion poem PDF. Image shows a drop of water rippling out

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Category: General Awareness

To Walk Intentional

To walk intentional upon this sea,
I must let go of myself, let go of me.
The pain is a gift, and the gift is the pain,
Sorrow speaks of what ghosts remain.

As I rustled here and there, I sometimes saw her,
and I cared.
I cared? I paused to ponder,
On my way to work, then home again, I’d wonder.
Seen her around, eyes to the sky, not down, or level, almost childlike, asking why.
Got the vibe that she was nervous,
Nervous yet trying to act impervious.
There was something about her, something was off,
Should I have embraced this feeling or not?
I sensed a danger and a plot.

Then one day, she was just gone.
Kept waiting to see her, by store windows and manicured lawns.
Seasons changed, but her absence remained,
What happened to her? Cold and ill dressed for the rain.
Did I fail her? Did I not see? Or did I see too plainly,
then say, no not me?

To walk intentional upon this sea,
I must let go of myself, let go of me.
The pain is a gift, and the gift is the pain,
Sorrow speaks of what ghosts remain.

by: Melanie Douglas

Provided with permission within the framework of ethical storytelling.

Poster of To Walk Intentional poem PDF. Image shows pollen blowing in the air

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Category: Empowering Women


The time has come
to unapologize
disentangle from shame
long gripped, intertwined
speak boldly in the whole voice that is you
occupy your full space
throw off encumberments
imposed by self and others
and in freedom to shine brightly
the light that you have learned to dim
except in moments
implanted by the Light of the World

Cup that spark with tender hands
and breathe it to flame
Wild and wonderful you
break out from the endless circle of motion
ebbs and flows of truth and perception

Raise your voice fearlessly
to Jehovah Rapha
Restorer of Souls
He releases shackles of expectation
and decorum

The courage of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah
courses in your veins
declaring you are the daughter of the King

Dance freely, a radiance of colour, purest joy of your Creator
long hidden in limiting closets
in cavernous recesses
emerge as rays of sunlight
breaching forest ceiling
tendrils of warmth reaching down
to deepest roots
firm in their Life-Giving Foundation

Created for such a time as this
you are glorious
you are unbound
you are beautiful

Go ahead and unapologize

by: Christina Bulgin

Provided with permission within the framework of ethical storytelling.

Poster of Unapologize poem PDF. Image shows a young woman with her arms stretch out looking at the sky

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