Katie Bergman | Week 1

Somewhere between growing up in the rolling foothills of Alberta and the quiet prairies of Saskatchewan, I began developing an unquenchable passion for peace and justice.  From elementary school onward, I remember being appalled by the transatlantic slave trade I had been learning about through books and films.  As I gained a profound respect and admiration for Harriet Tubman and other activists who sought to liberate slaves, I found myself longing to have been part of the abolitionist movement.  But unbeknownst to me, a young girl researching the eradication of slavery, millions of people were still being forced into bondage through a new form of slavery.As I grew up, I took my passion for social justice and human rights to the academic level.  I spent my first year of university dipping into several areas of study, including political science, gender, journalism, and history, but finally settled on a major in Human Justice.  Exploring a broad range of justice issues was fascinating to me, albeit overwhelming.  For each paper that I wrote, I challenged myself to select a new justice issue to focus on.  I was often inspired to write about the breaches of human rights I had witnessed in my travels and experiences, such as the marginalization of Roma in Central/Eastern Europe, after I had visited a small Roma community in rural Hungary.  I wrote about the inaccessibility of the criminal justice system for Indigenous populations in Canada; the role of feminism in the Christian church; the experience of oppression by men; and the dialectic perspectives of prostitution.  It wasn’t until the end of my undergraduate career that I finally wrote my first paper on the pervasiveness of sex trafficking in Canada.

When I graduated this past spring with a Bachelor of Human Justice, I was slightly overwhelmed by the possibilities before me.  Should I dive straight into graduate studies? Would it make more sense to gain practical experience through an internship first?  Do I want to join forces with an NGO or should I pursue formal political work within the government?

Instead, I ended up in rural Mexico as an Art teacher for kids with special needs.  Having no experience or training in Spanish, let alone any other qualifications for the job, I was a bit over my head for the first few months … But despite how far I was out of my comfort zone, I fell in love with the children I was teaching, and developed such a fierce affection for them that I couldn’t bear the thought of them being faced with any kind of harm, especially in the form of modern-day slavery.  When one of the little girls I had grown extremely attached to disappeared for several weeks, my worst fears came alive.  It was then that I felt affirmed in my calling to join the movement to end human trafficking.

After saying good-bye to my family (both those back in Canada, and the new family I had formed in Mexico), I moved to California to transform my passion into vocation with the Not For Sale Campaign.  Since my arrival just one week ago, I’ve been marvelling not only at the breathtaking beauty of Half Moon Bay, but also at the overwhelming amount of work that Not For Sale does to engage people of all backgrounds in the abolitionist movement.  I’m thrilled to be part of the NFS Fellowship program with the other six Fellows from all across North America, as we collectively work to bring justice to a world that, one day, as a whole, will no longer tolerate the selling or purchasing of a human life.

2 responses to “Katie Bergman | Week 1

  1. I’d love to hear more about your time in Mexico…I did a semester studying in Queretaro, near Mexico City.

  2. It’s great to have this introduction to each of the Fellows so I can get to know the others.

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