Susan Elizabeth McClelland WRITER - JOURNALIST

 
 

Squeaky Wheel Tour Canada, 2011

 

This acclaimed concert series, launched for the first time in Canada in 2011, raises awareness of the large numbers of missing people, particularly women in Canada and the large numbers of missing people worldwide due to trafficking and violence.

This event will draw attention to several hundred missing people, many of whom will be profiled by artists participating in concerts throughout the United States and other countries.

In Canada, the band Conscience has led the way by signing on to be a Squeaky Wheel Tour member and dedicating their video, Under Promise, Over Deliver, to the cause of missing people. Canadian icons Mae Moore and Bif Naked, celebrated Cellist Kiki Mizumi and Vice Girls and Ben Sures quickly followed in Conscience’ footsteps. Member of Parliament Joy Smith, an outspoken advocate for addressing Canada’s role in the trafficking of humans is a tour spokesperson along with actresses Leah Pinsent and Tantoo Cardinal, who speak about Canada’s deplorable record in investigating and curbing the high numbers of missing aboriginal women.

To end the first Canadian tour, on November 5 the Long and McQuade music store in Toronto will be featuring a special evening event with muscians, guest speakers and special guests, including families of Canada’s missing and Squeaky Wheel founder Jannel Rap. Elizabeth Smart and her father Ed, both child advocates, will also mark their first public speaking event together in Canada representing Squeaky Wheel, and the Toronto Star has signed on as the event media sponsor.

Jannel Rap (Singer/songwriter and founder of Squeaky Wheel Tour®) has intimate knowledge of the missing. Her sister, musician Gina Bos, disappeared on October 17, 2000. Jannel's heartache over the unknown status of her sister became a fight to gain attention for all missing and an avenue to bring hope to their families. 800,000 missing person's reports are made every year in the United States and thousands more in Canada. More than a hundred thousand of these cases go unsolved. The majority of families face the same dilemma that Jannel encountered when Gina went missing: when their loved ones simply vanish with no lurid or dramatic story, they garner no media attention. Rap felt that she had to do something to change this and she brought the concept of the Squeaky Wheel Tour® to life and started GINA, a non profit group that collects the names of missing individuals in the United States and worldwide and offers support to family and loved ones of the missing.

Currently, a team of Canadians, including Susan, working alongside Rap aim to bring Squeaky Wheel® to Canada. The lead member of that team is Glendene Grant, whose daughter Jessie went missing five years ago at the hands of human traffickers.

To date, over 1,000 missing people profiled collectively through GINA have been FOUND. Canada, in particular, has a large number of missing aboriginal women. Many of these women's cases go largely uninvestigated. These women, sadly, are presumed dead, abducted off of highways, on their way from school and off their reserves. Canada is also a transit and source destination for women, girls and boys kidnapped or lured into sex and human trafficking rings. They are hidden away in apartments and basements, abused, tortured and then smuggled into the United States or other parts of the world.


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The goal of the series is for the media and the audience to act:

• lobby Canadian politicians to set up a national registry of missing people. The country does not have one. No one is fully aware of the scope of the problem as a result, and areas where women and children may be at high risk of exploitation. The missing need to have a voice, and be counted and the public has a right to be protected. Canada, in not having a national registry of missing people, is, by their silence, ignoring the final cries of those who have gone missing, the vast majority, except in cases of parental child abduction, at the hands of violence.

• Education in all elementary schools in Canada, so children learn confidence, that it is permissible to fight back, so they do not put themselves at places of risk, know the risks to their own safety and what to do if attacked or their or a friend’s safety is in peril. Support the Elizabeth Smart’s Foundation RAD program. http://elizabethsmartfoundation.org/radkids/

• Press the Canadian government to ratify the new law that has law enforcement officers collecting DNA upon arrest of suspected sex offenders Currently Canada has more than 68,000 unsolved crimes. If collection of DNA was taken on arrest when the offender’s fingerprints and mug shots were taken many of these crimes would be solved. Fewer cases would grow cold. Many crimes would be prevented because the criminals would be identified and successfully prosecuted earlier in their careers..

• Lobby politicians to fund and support law enforcement officers in the investigation of trafficking operations. Canada is both a transit point and destination for human trafficking for purposes of labour and sex.

Canada's most vulnerable citizens due to poverty, race, religion or sexual preference are at the greatest risk of exploitation and becoming a sad statistic that most of mainstream society…and the media… refuses to acknowledge. But they are not alone. Anyone could fall prey and just disappear. It is time Canadian musicians and artists of all sorts unite to bring awareness of Canada's underground of missing people and the estimated 300 million women and girls who have disappeared worldwide, according to the United Nations.

This global community effort is supported by the families of the missing and non-profits, including The Elizabeth Smart Foundation, The Surviving Parents Coalition, M.A.T.H. – Mothers Against Human Trafficking, Tommy Foundation, In Hope, Project Jason, Team Hope, The Nevada Child Seekers, the Morgan Nick Foundation, Missing Charls Kj Jorvath-Allan, and member of Canadian parliament Joy Smith

Mother Teresa once said, If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten we belong to one another. The missing need your voice so they’ll be remembered.

For more information and / or to become a GINA artist please contact:

Glendene Grant
Founder, M.A.T.H. — Mothers Against Trafficking Humans
1 250 374-6137
glendene@shaw.ca