This summer, we’re challenging Canadians from coast to coast to get active and Just Move to end slavery. During July and August, we’ll follow justice seekers and share their stories as they run, walk, hike and bike to raise money for freedom.
In this interview, IJM Canada's Director of Marketing and PR, Petra Kooman, shares about how she's balancing family life and motherhood with advocacy.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Petra: My name is Petra Kooman and I am the Director of Marketing and Public Relations at IJM Canada. I have been with the organization for 8 years and I love my job. I am married to Andrew and have a son named William. He is almost two and a barrel of fun.
I have a really full life and I’m so grateful for it. Once a week, I make time to exercise with friends. We go walking at a park, or to a boxfit class. That’s why I think Just Stroll is a really good fit for me. If I’m not walking with one of my friends once a week, we take a lot of walks as a family through the paths around our house or at the park.
So you work for International Justice Mission Canada, why are you passionate about issues of injustice?
Petra: I’ve always hated the strong taking advantage of the weak. I’ve always hated unfair power dynamics. That’s what so many of our clients experience: bullies. Bullies who can traffic them for sex. Who trick them into bonded labour slavery. Strong perpetrators take the land of the weak and vulnerable widows. That’s why I believe IJM can play such a critical role because the systems that are in place to protect the poor and the vulnerable—when they work well—CAN protect the poor and vulnerable. I want to see that happen.
Why is it important? Why do you feel that it’s important for people to make personal moves to end it?
Petra: There’s no way that we can do this work alone. Average Canadians like you and me, doing seemingly ordinary things over the long haul, can make a huge impact. I really believe that a strong, consistent movement toward a goal, with sometimes incremental progress, can eventually become extraordinary. When someone decides that he or she wants to walk a certain distance over the course of the summer to raise money for IJM, at the end of the day, that can be extraordinary.
What are you doing for this year’s Just Move campaign?
Petra: I am going to walk 100km over the course of July and August. I tracked it out last week that if I do the same loop every week, I can almost get to my kilometer goal. I’ll make up the difference by running after my son. My fundraising goal is $250.
How will you find the time to get active between work and family and church and all the other things that you do?
Petra: I’ve learned, especially over the last two years, that you have to incorporate things into your day to day life if it's ever going to happen. So for example, I don’t often go for a walk by myself: I go for a walk with my family and we have a chance to be in nature and connect. Or if I want to see my friends but I need to exercise, I find a way to incorporate the two by going to the gym together and getting the best of both worlds.
What is one tip that you would give to other moms who have small children who would like to participate in something like this?
Petra: I think it goes back to my earlier comment that you can incorporate your kids into it. Don’t think that it’s something that you need to do in isolation. Make your kids a part of whatever activity you’re going to undertake or get them excited about it. Get them to set their own tiny little goal, if they’re big enough to understand what that looks like. My campaign is called Just Stroll because my little guy is still in a stroller. He may not know it, but he’s involved.
Five years from now, what do you hope is different about IJM’s work and the issues of global justice right now?
Petra: I hope that five years from now we can say, "Look at the transformation that has taken place: millions of people around the world are safe today because they’re free from slavery and violence. We think ending slavery in our lifetime is possible.”
What is your pet peeve?
Petra: Traffic! Also, this isn't a pet peeve, but I really don't like the thought of outer space. I doubt I'll ever sign up to go to Mars.
What do you bring with you everywhere you go?
Petra: My backpack because we have a child. We need to bring snacks, water, toys, diapers, several changes of clothes….basically everything except the kitchen sink. The list is never ending.
What else should our readers know?
Petra: Just go for it. Your consistent, ordinary effort can eventually become something extraordinary.
This article is part of a series featuring the amazing individuals who have decided to participate in the Just Move campaign.