A wife, mother, farmer and municipal councillor, Val Caldwell is going to speak next week on a topic that affects families and communities across Canada.
Douglas and Val Caldwell are parents of two - Christyna in grade 11 at Hamiota Collegiate and Liam who just this week completed his second year at ACC.
Caldwell’s adamant about the need for people to wake up to one of the problems of our time, to protect our communities – our kids, teens and vulnerable people, from sexual exploitation.
She’s excited about an upcoming online conference that’s free for people to tune in: The 2021 Canadian Sexual Exploitation Summit.
“Sexual exploitation, in particular online sexual exploitation, has been a topic I have spoken on for 13 years now. I am so truly honored to be a part of this event!” says Caldwell.
Caldwell says, “The more I spoke to youth over the years, the more evident the problem of sexual exploitation online became to me. It is not just a problem that exists in the big cities, children from all walks of life are susceptible as soon as they enter the virtual world. The more information we can put in the hands of children, parents, and caregivers on the topic the better chance we have of disrupting the demand and protecting children.”
A family friend, Zachary Miller, was kidnapped some years ago www.empireadvance.ca/news/local-news/christyna-caldwell-takes-action-petitions-canadian-justice-committee-1.24091495 and his case inspired Val’s daughter Christyna’s petition and most recently her 4-H speech www.empireadvance.ca/news/local-news/christyna-caldwell-tops-4-h-provincial-speech-competition-1.24314052 . The case also inspired Val’s determination.
“I had been presenting on the subject for a few years prior to meeting the Miller Family. However, their story definitely inspires me to keep getting the message out there. I have had the privilege of presenting with Zach and his amazing family on several occasions in Saskatchewan, they are a testament to true strength and resilience.”
The summit’s focus is on disrupting demand for purchasing sex in Canada. Sexual exploitation is based on economic principles. Who is the buyer? How do we make this part of sexual exploitation more visible?
Caldwell is part of a movement to bring sexploitation into the light of day. She says, “I so strongly believe the more we talk about issues such as sexual exploitation and normalize it, the harder it becomes for individuals to prey on people, particularly our youth who are so active on so many online platforms.
“My presentation focuses on the "hot spots", if you will, on social media where a lot of predators first make contact. Sites and apps such as TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram to name a few.”
Information for the summit, (sexualexploitationsummit.ca) says that pornography fuels the demand and a hyper-sexualized culture factors into all parts of sexual exploitation.
What will the summit be like?
The Canadian Sexual Exploitation Summit will be a one-of-a-kind setting for people from business, transportation, Indigenous, education, health, child welfare, justice, law enforcement and survivor sectors.
Among 50 presenters, Candance Volk is speaking. A proud Dakota mother and grandmother who teaches her family of traditional ways, she is also a strong voice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
And another is Valiant Richeyof the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe – the world’s largest regional security organization. The OSCE addresses issues that have an impact on our common security, including arms control, terrorism, good governance, energy security, human trafficking, democratization, media freedom and national minorities.
International speaker Meghan Donevan is a Canadian-Swede with close to 10 years’ experience working directly with survivors of sexual exploitation. She initiated Reality Check, an educational curriculum addressing the harms of pornography. Reality Check’s resource “10 myths about porn” has been translated into nine languages and distributed throughout Sweden and internationally. Donevan has been asked to speak at the European Parliament, the Swedish parliament and Government Offices, as well as other events in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, United Kingdom, Germany, India, Kenya, United States and Canada.
Kenton’s Val Caldwell believes in being part of the change she wants to see; she's is working to effect change. She will be one of the many sessions available to those registered – early Thursday morning.
This online conference, CSES 2021: Disrupt Demand, is free, happening May 6-7. Registration is open until May 5 at sexualexploitationsummit.ca