Freeing the 99%

A21 Walk for Freedom

By: Renessa Visser, reporter

Photographer: Zach Chester

    This past weekend, Redeemer’s Applied Social Sciences department participated in A21’s Walk for Freedom. A21 is a non-profit organization that fights slavery on a global level. Zach Chester, one of the thirteen Redeemer students who participated in the walk, shared that “Human trafficking is an issue that’s getting a lot of attention right now, and the walk was a tangible way to make a statement about that. There was something very moving about walking in a silent, single-file line through downtown Kitchener to raise awareness.”

    As A21’s website states, “Slavery is more stoppable than ever, and that’s why we’re here, rallying around the world and doing the work together.” The walk seeks to raise awareness, both for the participants and for those who pass by. It alerts people to the statistics: only 1% of victims are ever freed; this is why we need to take action.  The walk doesn’t disrupt any of the regular traffic, remaining a silent yet striking presence.

   “Everyone walks while listening to A21’s podcast, allowing us to reflect on stories about slavery and human trafficking,” Zach explained. “Obviously, I’ve always disagreed with slavery, so it was cool to be part of something so real. There’s something powerful about taking a part of your Saturday to participate in a walk that fights against this fundamentally harmful crime. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you believe: almost everyone can agree that slavery needs to end.”

   Another participant, Maggie Ford, shared her experience: “This walk was important to me because it gave me an opportunity to give a voice to the voiceless and bring awareness. Slavery isn’t just an overseas problem. In Waterloo, where we marched, many young girls are being manipulated and trafficked into sex slavery, which is so sad! In our society, we hear these things on the news and we have a ‘not in my backyard’ attitude, but it is time we open our eyes and get educated about slavery as it happens everywhere.”

   A21 organizes massive, worldwide fundraising campaigns, using the profits they make to free those harmed by the slave trade. They empower the individuals they free, supporting them as they seek employment and gain independence. Though A21’s walk may seem small, with each step horizons are widened, reaching the 99%.

   If you’re interested in learning more about Walk for Freedom, I would recommend watching Zach’s video of the walk:, or listening to A21’s podcast here: