The inaugural Freedom Gala benefiting The Salvation Army’s efforts to combat human trafficking was a success.  On this night, hundreds of attendees joined with a collective goal of bringing about awareness, education and action.   Held at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre Hotel, the grand room was a buzz with the chatter of influential members of the local community along with business women and men, media personalities, journalists, service providers, volunteers and representatives from Salvation Army programs and many more in attendance.

Joy Smith greeted the audience with a short speech and an introduction to her son, Edward – her inspiration for taking up this incredibly important social issue. Through her foundation and political work she has made it her mission to combat human trafficking, moving initiatives forward at various levels of Government.

Enthusiastic auctioneer, Howard Blank, encouraged attendees to raise their hands and open their hearts by giving just a little bit more. By nights end, hands were shooting up throughout the room with winning bids and contributions and overall proceeds going directly to Deborah’s Gate.

A highlight of the evening was featured keynote speaker, Victor Malarek. Victor provided an in-depth look at the global sex trade in a way didn’t hold back harsh realities such as, “a woman’s silence should never be taken for consent” and “no child is a prostitute, all children are victims.” In sharing his strong opinions, he definitely proved that … The Truth Isn’t Sexy.

With the event raising well over $100,000 … The Salvation Army would like to extend a Thank You to our event sponsors (Shannon Belkin, CTV, Escents, Hy’s and Phillips, Hager & North), the event committee (Co-Chairs, Shannon Belkin & Tali’ah Aquilini Keirstead Farris, Sharon Ferriss, Patricia Hyssop, Connie Leighton, Cathy McMahon, Tina Oliver and Isabelle Spothelfer), Victor Malarek, Joy Smith, Howard Blank and emcee Tamara Taggart, as well as all those who attended because together, we CAN make a difference.