By Nikayla Goddard, October 7 2020—
The Calgarians Against Sex Trafficking and Labour Exploitation (CASTLE) club on campus provides opportunities for members to get involved with anti-human trafficking organizations and the community through information, education and volunteering.
Juliana Lau, founder and president of CASTLE, first began writing the club constitution and gathering members in January of 2019, with the club being approved as an official Students’ Union club in April 2019.
“CASTLE was founded because there was no other anti-human trafficking club at the University of Calgary,” Lau explained. “Seeing that there was a lack of information available to students who want to learn more about that subject, I think people who might have been affected by human trafficking in the past, or are currently being affected by human trafficking, to give those people a space to exist on the university campus that is safe and well-informed.”
CASTLE has partnered with local anti-human trafficking organizations, such as the Action Coalition on Human Trafficking (ACT) Alberta, which allows CASTLE to create a knowledge-base with resources and supports that gives the club the ability to assist in the community. CASTLE provides opportunities for volunteers and community members to be connected with these organizations for volunteering, “to give back to the community,” Lau said, through “information and action.”
Last semester, CASTLE partnered with EmergeFree, which has now become Next Step Ministries, to provide regular twice monthly volunteering opportunities, which have been halted due to COVID-19 this semester. CASTLE also hosts workshops and educational events during the semester.
“It’s a lot harder to do things online this year,” Lau said. “We have moved all our workshops online and aren’t holding as many interactive events. It’s a lot harder to be genuine and have connections over Zoom. Especially when we’re talking about such a serious subject.”
Lau encourages students to join CASTLE regardless of how much they know about human trafficking — she says that the club has “amazing executives who are informed and ready to answer any questions you have, and also host workshops where you can learn more.”
She concluded, “Our connections with our partners will give you the opportunity to get involved more with the community of Calgary, and then opportunities on the side of activism and give you a solid basis to understand an issue that is plaguing Calgary and the rest of our province at an alarming rate.”