The Calgary Ice Breaker is back again! This year’s COVID-friendly challenge lasts 11 seconds, with donations going to the SA Foundation. This week, we spoke to the director of the Calgary Ice Breaker’s 11 Second Dip, Jill Plett, as well as a representative from the SA Foundation to learn more about the foundation and how we can help!
Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.
The objective of the SA Foundation is that no person be enslaved by, or trapped in the sex trade. The SA Foundation provides long term housing, recovery and job skills training for women and their children escaping human trafficking and sexual exploitation. We started right here in Calgary and our program model is now in 7 countries around the world- rewriting “her story” (survivors of sexual exploitation) from slavery to freedom.
What problem does it aim to solve?
The SA Foundation is one of the few organizations internationally that offers a comprehensive and uniquely designed long term program for survivors of sexual exploitation, including those that are pregnant and /or have children. We provide a “way out” of the exploitation giving her tools so that she is not at risk of being exploited again.
When did you start/join it?
SA Representative: I have been volunteering with the SA Foundation for about 10 years, and this was my second year being involved with the Calgary Ice Breaker.
Jill Plett: I was first involved with the daughter program of SAF in Calgary in 2011, did my first polar dip in 2014 and have been involved since.
What made you want to get involved?
SA Representative: I saw the movie “Taken” about 2 women who were abducted into a sex trafficking ring and I started to research to see if this indeed was an issue facing the world today… needless to say, it was an issue that I could not turn my back on. To: Volunteering for the SA Foundation has given me a way to be a part of the solution in the fight against human trafficking.
Jill Plett: When I heard the statistics regarding human trafficking at a Global Wonders Jewellery party (jewellery company of SAF, all jewellery made by survivors of human trafficking), my heart went out to the women who had been trafficked, so many of whom were young girls at the time. When I saw a way that I could help in Calgary, I was totally game. I lived for a short while with some of the women who had escaped trafficking, which was eye opening- I learned so much from them. Also, the polar dip used to fall on January 1st, which is my husband’s and my wedding anniversary, so it became a meaningful and fun way to celebrate our milestone.
What was the situation like when you started?
SA Representative: Human Trafficking generates about $150 billion a year with 2/3rds coming from commercial sexual exploitation. The average age that a girl enters the sex trade is 13 (both here in Canada and around the world). Any minor who is caught up in the sex trade is considered a victim of human trafficking.
How has it changed since?
SA Representative: In my opinion, what has changed most in the last 10 years (as the statistics are not going down) is that the issue of human trafficking is now more acknowledged. It used to be that no one wanted to talk about it or admit that sex trafficking existed. The conversation has changed- more people are aware and are understanding the issue. Some of this is due to events such as the #MeToo movement and more recently, the high profile arrest of Jeffrey Epstein (and now Peter Nygard).
However, I also think things have changed because so much of human trafficking has moved online. That is especially true during COVID, but it was already leaning that way. That means that many women and children are accessible in a way that they weren’t before. This is not just an issue for those who are in poverty or really compromised situations.
What more needs to be done?
SA Representative: More and more people need to understand the issue and take a stand against human trafficking; mostly to understand that a prostituted woman has most likely not chosen this as her vocation (does a 13 year old choose to do this?). And of course, we need to be able to provide more programs for women who are able to escape- that is what the Calgary Icebreaker #11SecondIceDip is doing: providing critically needed funds so that the SA Foundation can provide more space for more women to exit sexual slavery and rewrite her life.
Jill: I think we often feel helpless in the face of injustices like this. “How do I talk to my kids about it? How do I keep them safe? How do I help others?” Make yourself aware, and get involved in a simple way. I feel that the polar dip provides a fun, accessible, family friendly way to raise critical funds for women and their kids exiting human trafficking, and also starts some great conversations. It’s once a year, it’s a simple small thing that really adds up. Also, start simple with your kids. They can agree that no one should be a slave. As they get older, educate them in appropriate ways so they know what to watch for and so they have compassion for others. When they see their parents doing something about this, they often feel they can, as well.
How can our readers help?
Do the Dip! Join us in the 11SecondIceDip challenge; donate to the SA Foundation by texting FREEDOM to 20222; fill your tub with cold water and ice or snow; dip in your tub for 11 seconds; take picture or video and upload to our social media (we hand out weekly prizes to participants); and post to your social (use #11SecondIceDip) and challenge your friends to Do the Dip too!!
At the very least, starting following us on IG @calgaryicebreaker, and on FB Calgary Icebreaker Polar Dip, and 11 Second Ice Dip. You’ll see some fantastic dips, and maybe you’ll warm up to the idea this year or next!
Donate through our website! We are at about 85% of our goal to raise $100 000. Those funds go directly to providing safe homes, food and long term support for women and their kids who are in desperate need.
Do you have any events coming up?
Our #11SecondIceDip fundraising campaign is happening right now, meaning people can do the dip anytime between now and January 11th, 2021. We will also be encouraging many people to do the dip on January 1st (a date usually reserved for polar dips and the date that we used to host our own event), as a sort of mini event.
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome Calgary charity that you love?
#NotInMyCity is a movement raising awareness and taking collective action to prevent and end sexual exploitation and trafficking
Next Step Ministries is a local program (using the SA Foundation model) that is helping women exit sexual exploitation