When COVID-19 restrictions came into place early in 2020, IJM Canada's Winnipeg-based gala event, Cherished: More Precious than Gold, grew into a Canada-wide online benefit.
On November 20 guests from across the country tuned in to learn about IJM’s restorative work with children affected by online sexual exploitation in the Philippines. The event was led by our dynamic co-hosts David Pollendine, Director of Development for Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and Marie Gomez, Video Journalist with CityNews Winnipeg.
The event sought to rally Canadians to come together and help end the Online Sexual Exploitation of Children, also known as OSEC.
"You can help protect children from this horrific abuse. You can help them heal and dream of a better tomorrow. We need to step in. We get to use this video platform to hold back the abuse caused by the very same video platform. Each gift is an assertion that you are with us, raising your voice to say, 'No more!' These children can’t, but you and I can." - Anu George Canjanathoppil, Executive Director, IJM Canada
"You can help protect children from this horrific abuse. You can help them heal and dream of a better tomorrow." - Anu George Canjanathoppil
Three Canadian companies heard this call-to-action, finding alignment between their personal and corporate core values and the work of International Justice Mission Canada. For Valiant Solutions, Castellan Information Security Services, and The Humphries Group, this led to the formation of a strong partnership and financing IJM’s work through event sponsorship crucial to the success of Cherished. They continue to be strong supporters in the work to end OSEC.
To look further into what made these partnerships so meaningful, David Pollendine conducted interviews with the executives of each of the three companies.
"I believe that nothing else matters more than the safety and prevention of Sex Trafficking of Children." - Dunstin Finley
Dunstin Finley: President, Valiant Solutions, Window Cleaning and Rope Access
Dunstin manages a team of Professional Rope Access Techs, Certified Swing Stage and Aerial Man Lift Operators, and Professional Climbers and Mountaineers in Calgary, Alberta. Dunstin heard about the work of IJM through fellow Calgarian, Philip Calvert, National Director of Development for IJM Canada. He noted that through this friendship, “I [learned about the] amazing things that IJM is doing and contending for those who can’t contend for themselves.” As a father of four children under the age of seven, Dunstin was deeply impacted by the stories of children affected by OSEC. He stated, “I believe that nothing else matters more than the safety and prevention of Sex Trafficking of Children, protecting our future generations.”
"These victims of cybersex trafficking do not have anyone protecting them." - Azhar Laldin
Azhar Laldin: CEO, Castellan Information Security Services
Based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Azhar ensures that his team continues to provide clients with secure and holistic information security services. Azhar was impacted by a speech made by Gary Haugen, CEO and Founder of IJM, at a leadership summit over a decade ago. “IJM came to me as an organization that wasn’t just appealing to the emotions of the individuals, but they had a plan, they had a methodology, they had a structure on how to go about rescuing the victims - and that really spoke to me.”
For Castellan, the partnership with IJM Canada is two-fold: financial and providing complementary services through secure data management and analytics.
"Castellan has recognized that we have certain strengths and certain skills, but we don’t have the strengths or skills that IJM does. So for us to believe that we can send a team to another country is not realistic. What is realistic for an organization like us is to come alongside IJM who knows how to go about their business, who knows how to rescue individuals, who knows how to go after perpetrators – and support them."
Azhar states the decision to come alongside and support IJM was “a very easy decision to make.” Regarding event sponsorship, “What caught the attention of our leadership team was the work that IJM is doing to rescue victims of cybersex trafficking. As an information security firm, our goal and reason for existence is to help clients protect their personal and private information. These victims of cybersex trafficking do not have anyone protecting them. These technologies that have been created to enhance the life of mankind are actually being used to manipulate individuals, which is so against the reason of our firm. So when we look at IJM’s vision, spirit, actions, they are in perfect alignment with Castellan’s vision, spirit, and actions.”
"I think for us to be attached to that [IJM Canada] says we want to in our own small way give back and have an impact in the world." - Shaun Humphries
Shaun Humphries: Founder, The Humphries Group - Assante Wealth Management
Shaun has been helping Canadians navigate life-transitions and make integrated financial planning decisions for over thirty years. When his wife became a passionate supporter of IJM Canada, the two of them met with local IJM Canada representative David Pollendine to learn more. Shaun noted, “I walked away and thought ‘what a practical way of having an impact.’” With regards to corporate engagement, Shaun remarked that “our client approach has been to give donations to various causes. […] With IJM, we would have no clients who would push back against the idea of fighting injustice around the world, whether it is the criminal justice system, rule of law, slavery – those are all very important areas.” He stated that “even though IJM resonates with me personally in terms of my personal faith, they have a much broader mandate. I think for us to be attached to that says we want to in our own small way give back and have an impact in the world. Not just in our local community, but on the global community as well - and IJM is doing that in spades!”
All of our generous sponsors were aligned that aftercare is critical in the full restoration and transformation of those who have experienced cybersex trafficking. Dunstin noted, “rescue is obviously an important first step, but [the survivors] must be supported and loved back to health.” The executive directors believed that through the work of IJM and partners, OSEC survivors will “get the support they need, whether it is education, schooling, work opportunities, and just a protective place to grow and be transformed.”