GIFT Box was a massive awareness-raising event held during the 2015 Pan and Parapan Am Games in Toronto.
This walk-in art piece looked like a giant gift-wrapped box, but visitors would walk in to find information and statistics about human trafficking. The box itself was designed by students at OCAD and constructed by the Clifford Group.
Over the course of the Games, over 1,200 people visited GIFT Box and over 4,000 people signed postcards gathered during the campaign. The postcards, directed to Ontario’s then Premier Kathleen Wynne, called for a provincial action plan to tackle trafficking.
On January 11, 2016, the Collaborative Network delivered 4,208 citizen-signed postcard petitions to Premier Wynne. Four days later, she met with members of the Collaborative Network about the need to take action. A year later, the province announced its anti-human trafficking strategy.
GIFT Box was originally unveiled on July 7, 2015 outside St. James Cathedral in downtown Toronto to take advantage of high foot traffic during the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games.
The speakers at the launch also included Sister Sue Wilson, Director of the Office for Systemic Justice of the Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada. She offered examples of human trafficking, both international and domestic, for labour and sexual exploitation. She described human trafficking as not merely a crime but a societal illness.
“It’s social and economic exclusion that make people vulnerable to being trafficked. Human trafficking is challenging us to evolve into a society of compassion and justice.” – Sister Sue Wilson
In 2016, GIFT Box was in Sarnia, open to the public from June 3 – 7 during Sarnia’s summer festival. Volunteers were present to welcome visitors and raise awareness about the realities of human trafficking.
The Sarnia campaign was the result of collaborating with Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada, the Ursuline Sisters in Chatham, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, the Sarnia-Lambton Committee Against the Trafficking of Women and Children, and the Sexual Assault Survivor Centre (Sarnia-Lambton).
Indigenous elders, provincial politicians, social workers and others came together in a shared interest of taking action to address exploitation in all its forms.