© Dave Mathieson - Amherst News
Town of Amherst deputy mayor George Baker (second, from left) stopped at Canadian Tire in Amherst on Wednesday to offer encouragement, and some Town of Amherst mementos, to walkers trekking across Nova Scotia to make people aware of the problem of human trafficking in the Maritimes. The walkers are: (from left) Sherri-Dawn Berrett of Truro, (Baker), Lia Renaud of Truro, Lorne A. Julien, and Jessica McDonald, both of Millbrook First Nation, and their safety driver, Gary Johnson.
AMHERST - Starting out in Bedford Monday morning, Truro's Lia Renaud is walking to raise awareness about the problem of human trafficking in the Maritimes.
She is walking to Moncton and made a pit stop in Amherst on Wednesday before continuing her journey.
"Atlantic Canada is considered a starting point for human trafficking within the sex trade," said Renaud. "Women, children, and a disproportionate number of aboriginal people are being trafficked (in the Maritimes).
Jessica McDonald and aboriginal artist Lorne A. Julien, both of Millbrook First Nation, have supported Renaud by joining her on her quest.
Others have joined them as well.
"We had about nine walkers on the first day. It was raining and we ended up being soaked for about 12 hours," said Renaud. "With the rubbing and feet being wet it was inevitable we'd get blisters."
Renaud is originally from Ontario but has been working in Truro for about six months.
It was just three weeks ago that she decided walk against human trafficking.
"I had been planning to go back to Ontario to campaign (for changes in human trafficking policy), and I learned that in Truro they had a youth group putting on a presentation about human trafficking, so I thought I'd go down to see what they were talking about."
About 30 people were at the presentation.
"There were men, women, children and older people. It was really encouraging to see," said Renaud. "Right then and there I put up my hand and said I will walk along this route from Halifax to Moncton and anybody who's interested can join me."
Renaud is a recent graduate of the social justice and peace program at Western University in London, Ont.
"I learned about human trafficking in my program and I've worked with human trafficking survivors."
She joined an anti-human trafficking group in London.
"I joined the group and met this woman, Stacey, and found out later that she was actually trafficked for eight years about 10 minutes from my hometown growing up."
At the end of August she is going back to Ontario with a petition.
"We hope to get 7,000 signatures in seven days," said Renaud. "We'll go to seven of the 10 largest cities in Ontario to try to get increased funding for post-care for human trafficking survivors."