“All the Flowers May Die, But the Thistles Will Live”: Sex Trafficking Through the Eyes of a Police Officer-Researcher

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Click HERE for he full article

Thank-you as well to Professor Donna Hughes, University of Rhode Island, for your guidance with this article.

Acknowledgements:

I am grateful to the many participants who agree to take the time to be interviewed for this research. I thank the survivors for opening their hearts and exposing their compelling stories for the greater good of preventing people from being exploited and assisting others to escape the sex industry. I also acknowledge and appreciate the professionals, researchers, police, social workers, and NGO staff who work tirelessly for social justice. The opinions expressed in this article are my own and not the Winnipeg Police Service. Dignity thanks the following people for their time and expertise to review this article: Robert Jensen, professor emeritus, School of Journalism, University of Texas at Austin; and Joan Reid, associate professor criminology, University of South Florida at St. Petersburg. Dignity also thanks Jody Raphael, DePaul College of Law, Chicago, Illinois, for her time editing this article.

 

Research from the Mauro Centre

Chapter 1. Sharing Circles: The Benefits and Limitations in Peacebuilding Initiatives
Dr. Cathy Rocke

Chapter 2. Applying the Conflict Transformation Lens to Understand Why Indigenous Canadians Drop Out of School
Dr. Laura Reimer

Chapter 3. Peacebuilding Projects as a Conflict Transformation Tool: A Meso-level Perspective from Winnipeg
Dr. Kawser Ahmed

Chapter 4. Stories From Survivors of Canada’s Sex Industry
Dr. Bob Chrismas

Chapter 5. Hermeneutic Phenomenological Understandings of Canadian Soldiers’ Experiences in Peace Support Operations
Dr. Patlee Creary

Chapter 6. Racialized and Gendered Peacebuilding in the U.S.-Mexico Border Justice Movement
Dr. Jodi Dueck-Read

Chapter 7. The Role of Transitional Justice in Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding in Kenya
Dr. Peter Karari

Chapter 8. Living with Others: Learning for Peace and Global Citizenship
Dr. Lloyd Kornelsen

Chapter 9. Players or Pawns? Protest, Participation, and Principled Nonviolence at the 1968 Summer Olympics
Dr. Chris Hrynkow

Chapter 10. Towards an Integrated Framework of Conflict Resolution and Transformation in Environmental Policymaking: Case Study of the North American Great Lakes Area
Dr. Olga Skarloto

Chapter 11. “You’re sitting in my desk!” Researching the ‘Past in the Present’ in Israel
Dr. Katerina Standish

Chapter 12. The Challenge of Local Ownership of Peacebuilding in Afghanistan: Dependency, Biased Coordination, and Scant Timelines
Dr. Chuck Thiessen

Reviews

This book stands as a testimonial to the profound impact of the Mauro Centre and its Ph.D. program on the field of Peace and Conflict Studies. The range of topics covered by these authors, all relatively new scholars who share insights from their doctoral dissertations completed at the Mauro Centre, demonstrates the breadth and vitality of this young and growing discipline. The chapters of the book move smoothly from research based within the local Winnipeg, Manitoba, scene to inquiries spanning national, international, and global contexts. The collection is a must-read for anyone interested in the current questions and the new directions explored through the academic study of conflict and peace.
Neil Funk-Unrau, Associate Professor of Conflict Resolution and Associate Dean of Menno Simons College, a College of Canadian Mennonite University
***
Stories define our identities. And they define our “Others” be they antagonistic or friendly. This book is about stories—who tells them, for what reason, to whom, in which context. In doing so it nudges the field of peace and conflict studies (PACS) in the direction of narrative. A dozen doctoral graduates of the Arthur Mauro integrate a range of methodologies—ethnographic, phenomenological, qualitative, historical—to take us into the lives of conflict stricken individuals and groups, showing how stories, and research on stories, can be used for healing transformation. Though conscious of starting in Winnipeg, their work takes us outward to immigrants crossing into the United States, to confronting racism at the ’68 Olympics, to Afghanistan, and the contested narratives of Israelis and Palestinians in five universities in Israel. It should be required reading for those taking PACS related degrees.
Vern Redekop, professor emeritus, Saint Paul University
***
The practice of peacebuilding and the transformation of conflict take shape within this book. This new and rapidly developing field tackles the complexity of transformative change. Here the application takes shape through the work of the 12 authors. In writing the story of their research, the authors move from theory to practice. There are treasures here that highlight the use of conflict transformation and peacebuilding in multiple contexts and at many levels from the personal to the interpersonal to the communal. Gems exist in each chapter with exemplars at multiple levels–intergroup and intragroup, organizational, and community. Complex issues of conflict are addressed from the local to the national and from immediate to intractable. Systemic issues of oppression are tackled across multiple dimensions. At each level the centering of local control and practices are highlighted.
Cathryne L. Schmitz, University of North Carolina

Blue collar doctor: a short story about crossroads and life long learning

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I quit school to join the workforce when I was 16 years old, but always knew I would return to complete my education someway, somehow. I was always working; in fact being tired all the time may have resulted in my not finishing high school. At 16, I was delivering pizza every night for Gondola, slopping horses at the race track at six each morning, and doing odd construction jobs on weekends, so I was pretty much independent from a young age.

As a child, I thought of myself as a philsophical person, somewhat of a poet, but I wasn’t feeling fulfilled in high school. One teacher, who I liked and respected, took me aside one day and even encouraged me to leave school; I’ve always felt he let me down at that time. When my buddy Duane suggested we quit and go down West, I said OK. I finally found some work as a logger in BC, but got laid off within a few months before I came back to Winnipeg to do a variety of construction and factory jobs. Concrete work was hard. I still thank my lucky stars that I don’t do that for a living, every time I drive by a construction crew. Landscaping was OK, it is outdoors and not too dangerous, but I still recall the time my workmate got taken away by ambulance because he inhaled too much dry dirt.

One moment of truth came when I was 19 years old, working at the old Five Roses Flour Mill in Winnipeg. It was a dirty, tough job and I saw something that made me think. I saw a man, a machine tender talking to the shop stuart, it was a union shop, and he was upset. He said a young manager told him to dump a 100-pound bag of flour down a chute. I’m a machine tender, its not my job, and I have a bad back- he said. The manager said do it or go home. This man had worked there for maybe 20 years, and would have a hard time finding other work. I said to myself right then and there, I better get back to school, otherwise I’ll still be doing this dirty job when I am 50.

Looking for options, I started checking adult education and high schools for ways for me to go back. One day, I stopped in at the University of Winnipeg Collegiate. It was a different kind of place, as it was part of the University. I met a kind principal named Vanderstoel. I had a poor school record, but I felt I could possibly finish high school and who knows where that might lead. In about five minutes, Mr. Vanderstoel set me up to do my high school courses and a course in first year university as well. This sent my life on a whole new trajectory for the next seven years, finishing high school and then my bachelor’s degree. I told the management at Five Roses Flour I was quitting to go back to school and an interesting thing happened. By the end of that day they came to me and said they had talked it over and they’d created a job for me; I was to watch for fires. So, for the next year I worked two 16 hour shifts at the flour mill each weekend, studying for high school, and walking through the mill once per hour to watch for fires. In hindsight, I realized later how nice that was of them; but, they needed that fire watch as the place eventually burnt down, not on my watch, but long after I had moved on.

I took courses at the University of Winnipeg, year around while working four jobs, finishing high school. For many years I worked out at the YMCA, bodybuilding and strength training, when I wasn’t training in the martial arts. The YMCA was the only weight room in the City. From the age of 13 I used to meet my Dad there; he would go after work and I would bus down there after school and then catch a ride home. I still went there when I was 19, and one guy at the gym was a senior supervisor in the Sheriff’s Office; he hired me as a Sheriff. It was a good job for studying and great experience in the courts and prisons. I also worked other jobs, supervising federal prison inmates in a halfway house owned by the Native Clan Organization. For about a year, at one time, I was working fulltime as a Sheriff during the week, then I would report to Regina house and work from Friday evening, around the clock, to Sunday night, 40 hours, every weekend. Then in the evenings during the week I was the night manager of the Holiday Inn downtown; that was a job that evolved from when I was the bouncer in the nightclub and an opening came up to take over the security department. My wife Barb and I both worked there, and that is where we met. I was always taking courses and always studying ever chance I got.

I was a Sheriff’s Officer for five years and achieved the coveted permanent provincial appointment, which means you have benefits and cannot be laid off. However, I reached a point in 1987 where I could complete my BA if I went fulltime to school, so I made a leap and did it, giving up my provincial job; another crossroad. I was also a part-time soldier for years, with the Fort Gary Horse, and I eventually gave that up when I went into policing. I started in 1989 with the Winnipeg Police Service, after graduating with my BA. I moved up the ranks to my current position of Staff Sergeant, 29 years later. On the job training is a whole other story, after all the specializations I pursued, I had a resume 20 pages long.

Eighteen years into my policing career I started looking to further my university education. Looking at law school and various graduate programs, on the advice of one of our deputy police chiefs, I ended up in the Politics Department, at the University of Winnipeg. The chair of the Masters program (joint between the U. of Manitoba and U. of Winnipeg) in Public Administration said I might be a candidate, but why not try one course and see how it goes? She said the core theory course starts next week. I was nervous and unsure, but I made a snap decision and got re-admitted to the University of Winnipeg, and got permission to take the one course. Making that decision sent my life in an entirely different direction. I was unsure if I belonged, or if I could do it, but in the end, I loved it and did well. I took course after course and eventually was admitted to the program, finally completing it, with distinction, in 2009. Throughout my grad studies I always chose paper topics that I might apply in my policing career. They became the core of the first book I published, Canadian Policing in the 21stCentury: A frontline officer on challenges and changes (McGill-Queens University Press, 2013).

Grad studies in addition to my public service career was so rewarding and enriching that I wanted to continue it. Dr. Byrne, chair of the Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) Program, in the Arthur V. Mauro Center for Peace and justice, was kind and advised that I may be a candidate, so why not put in an application. The PACS program is one of the few PhD programs of its kind, and is unique in Canada. After I applied, they advised that I had no background in Peace Studies, but why not join the new PACS Masters degree that was started in 2010. I already had a master’s degree, but I just wanted my learning to continue, so I jumped into it.

One of the highlights of that program was travelling across South Africa, studying truth and reconciliation. Another highlight was rolling out my book on policing, presenting on it as far away as Hong Kong. Barb and I loved doing book signings for years; and I was always taking courses. At one point, in 2012, I suggested to the University of Manitoba that I have almost completed a Masters in Peace and Conflict Studies, and therefore now have a pretty good grounding in the field, maybe my studies should be applied towards a PhD? They agreed, and I embarked on completing my PhD. My dissertation, titled Modern Day Slavery and the Sex Industry, was on a topic that I became passionate about through my police work. It was just awarded the distinguished dissertation award by the University of Manitoba. I was proud to achieve this, because even now, I often feel insecure, like I don’t belong in the University, like I tricked the system somehow and just have not been found out yet.

People often ask me how I found time to finish a PhD while working full time and IMG_7718being father to four children. I most often say, half-joking, but actually not joking at all, at three in the morning, in the off times, when the kids were sleeping and when I was not required to do anything else. I always had a brief case with my coursework with me, always grabbing a minute here and there- and it all adds up. I had a lawn chair in the trunk of the car and always volunteered to drive the kids to their soccer games, basketball games, karate, swimming; a soccer game is good for two hours of reading. Of course, it was also a sacrifice for Barb, and Crystal, Chelsea, Brandi and Bobby; but my hope is that the example I tried to set, as a life-long learner, has made an impression and rubbed off on them. I believe it has, and I am proud of them all.

University is a special place for me, it has been the institution that stood behind a young man with hopes and dreams of a higher education, and all the doors it has opened for me. It changed the trajectory for a kid who quit school to work as a laborer. As a life-long learner I have always, throughout my whole adult life, felt proud and thankful for the important role that education has played for me, and the role it plays for thousands of people each year in achieving a better more fulfilling life. Now, as I have 20 academic papers, books and book chapters in various stages of publication, I can’t help but think back to the crossroads that send people here rather than there in life.

My hope is to use my story to encourage and inspire others, not so much to seek formal education, but to remain curious about the world, and keep learning. “Lifelong Learning is not a product of schooling but the lifelong attempt to acquire it” (Physicist & Nobel Laureate Albert Einstein, 1879 – 1955). Of course, my life’s journey of learning and unexpected lessons was directed in part by the strange experiences that came with 40 years in peace keeping professions, and a life dedicated to my wife and four loving children who in turn inspired and supported my educational journey.

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Mom and Dad

My Dad was an educated man, a tradesman who could build anything with his hands, but he had very little formal education. Mom dedicated herself to our family. Life and learning is not about formal education; it is about being curious about the world and always asking questions. Now in my 29thyear of policing I still literally wear a blue collar at work. I am proud of it, coming from a blue-collar background, and from a blue-collar family, and so proud of my Dad for always encouraging me to do what I feel passionate about in life. On his death bed, he said “life is short, don’t take things for granted and don’t take yourself too seriously.” Words that stuck with me. My message to you is to keep learning and engaging with life, it is the journey that is most meaningful, not the destination.

My PhD Thesis

Click here for full dissertation

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Very proud today to receive the U of Manitoba, DISTINGUISHED DISSERTATION AWARD; this only happens because of the mentorship and guidance of Dr. Sean Byrne, and the fantastic learning environment established in the Mauro Centre and University of Manitoba, but really could not have happened without my wonderful wife Barb by my side, and the sacrifices my family made for me to continue in this educational journey; what a wonderful acknowledgement though, for someone who returned to complete high school as an adult, and entered grad studies late in life. It’s never too late to pursue your passions…

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Thrilled, honoured and humbled to be nominated and selected for the:
UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA DISTINGUISHED THESIS AWARD, to be presented this fall, and to have my thesis selected among all faculties to be nominated by the University of Manitoba for the CANADIAN DISTINGUISHED DISSERTATION AWARD by the Canadian Graduate Studies Association.

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Bob Chrismas, PhD

cropped-img_1827-1_pp1-3011-2.jpgModern day slavery and the sex industry: raising the voices of survivors and collaborators while confronting sex trafficking and exploitation in Manitoba, Canada

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants (Isaac Newton, 1676)

Abstract:

Sexual exploitation and human sex trafficking are a multi-billion-dollar international industry in which many Canadian women and children are trafficked and exploited, hurt and sometimes murdered by predators. Previous studies have often overlooked significant voices including police, political leaders and prosecutors who also work to protect sex industry survivors. This research widens the net and includes interviews with 61 experts across Manitoba, including police, First Nations and other political leaders, government and non-government service providers and sex trafficking survivors, who collectively represent over 1,000 years of experience combatting victimization in the sex industry. Through a grounded approach, this study gathers the stories…

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Love, public service, and the unvarnished truth

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I wonder how many people know the life of a first responder, the things they are exposed to and the reality that they live with. A student in a university class on violence and conflict recently asked me, how do police officers deal with the stress of the job. I pointed out that medical staff, nurses and doctors, paramedics, fire fighters and police officers deal with people at their maddest, baddest and saddest, routinely exposed to things that are beyond the normal human experience. They see things that they don’t want to burden their family or friends with, so who do they talk to, and when do they unburden themselves?

First responders are the tip of the public service spear, first to arrive at some of society’s nastiest problems, dealing with humanity at it’s worst, they exemplify some of humankind’s best. Police and firefighters, like soldiers, must come to terms early in their career with the sacrifice they may be called upon to make at any given moment. And make no mistake, when they sign up, their spouses and families are signed up along with them. But it is important to point out that all public servants, in all their varied roles, sacrifice for their work, whether it be in public office, clerical or administrative roles, dealing with some of society’s worst problems. To me, and I think most civil servants, public service means committing to serve, putting community well-being first. First responders represent the epitome of service, literally knowing they could be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice. But, most of their work is more of a slow burn, dealing daily with conflict, victimization and administration, two minutes of terror followed by eight hours of paperwork- as the saying goes.

They have to be stoic and professional at scenes of violence, the calm voice and steady hand for people during the worst crisis of their life––over and over again in any given tour of duty, and then never really having a chance to scream themselves; Public speaking when they are afraid, humble and uncomfortable, but the message is so important to say; Taking shit, “I pay your salary” and just smiling when people tell you their speeding ticket story; Being called a racist when you’ve dedicated your life to fighting racism; Tedious investigations and endless paperwork, so court cases don’t fail; Leaving family, no matter if it’s Christmas, an anniversary or birthday, to help other people with their crisis, managing a threat to public safety, or making sure a crime is investigated; Working and guarding the community while everyone else in the City sleeps except for criminals, drunks and cabbies; Safeguarding someone’s dignity when they are attacking yours, protecting them while they are assaulting you; Taking an eyeful of pepper spray, being tazered, and practicing self defense tactics on each other, so they you know what it would feel like if you ever have to use it on a criminal; Going into a dark building to search for intruders, knowing that a colleague recently caught a two-by-four in the face in the same scenario; Intervening in a fight when a terrified person has called for help, with the memory that you recently did the same thing and while you were putting the cuffs on him, she changed her mind and attacked you from behind; Facing a crowd in protest, allowing them to spit on you, swear at and berate you, hoping you see it coming if someone throws a rock or chemicals or a malotov cocktail from the crowd, knowing you are there for their protection; The proverbial, running towards danger when everyone else is running away.

The unsung support roles are just as stressful, the nurse’s aide who cleans up all the blood and medical supplies in the emergency room, getting ready for the next emergency while a grieving family from the previous one is still in the other room, the dispatcher who listens helplessly to the high-speed pursuit, desperate citizens calling for help, the officer voicing for backup while they are being attacked, or the firefighter down in a smoke-filled building, and the list goes on.

It is the greatest honour to have such meaningful work protecting community, the opportunity to practice pure compassion for people, even if it puts you in harms way; but folks should know it is a privilege that comes with a cost. It is a calling that cannot be described well without the term love, love of humanity, love of community and gratitude for the opportunity to serve a pure purpose in life. That is the unvarnished truth for most first responders.

Are you a University of Manitoba graduate? 

I’ve been nominated to represent alumni on the University of Manitoba Board of Governors. I would love the opportunity, and hope you will vote for me.

Please take a minute to vote; make sure your interests are represented, and give me a voice on the Board to represent you.

Click here to see the candidates and Vote.

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“Rising up” conference, University of Manitoba. 9-10 March 2018

Twenty panels and eighty-four presenters from twenty-nine institutions from all over the world!

 Screening of More than a Word at 7 pm in partnership with Decolonizing lens.

Complimentary  dinner March 10th at 5:45 pm at the Hub Social Club

Link to Conference webpage

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Rising Up: A Graduate Students Conference on Indigenous Knowledge and Research Friday and Saturday, March 9th and 10th, 2018 Fort Garry Campus, University of Manitoba

Rising Up is an academic gathering giving graduate students the spotlight to present their work while connecting with other researchers. The conference is interdisciplinary, and attracts students and researchers who are working on a wide range of topics in the Indigenous/Native Studies field.

This is a free event, open to all.

 

Canadian Policing in the 21st Century

 

Obtain your copy and more information at McGill-Queen’s University Press, many libraries, online, and all major bookstores:

Amazon.ca

Amazon.com

McNally Robinson Books

Indigo

Canada’s Future

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Such a great experience today with my colleagues, touring students and teachers from the Freedom International School in downtown Winnipeg, around the Police Headquarters with Devon Clunis (retired Chief), These kids were so engaged and eager, the day went by in a flash and we wanted it to continue. Our future is in good hands.