“I’m at a point now, where, in my meaning-making process, I’m able to see the gifts that came out of the pain and suffering, especially when I reflect on the work I do,” Wadud said, who counsels women in Vancouver, who works as a manager of indigenous women’s programs with Battered Women’s Support Services.“Working with extremely vulnerable women on the downtown east side and in other capacities, and just that innate ability to create safety right away and just knowing I just might understand.”
Her journey, she said, led her to a place, and when she arrived at that place, she felt the pieces of the puzzle came together. It begins with her being adopted as a child.She was abused by her adoptive mother and returned to the child welfare system at 12. She spent time in group homes before she ran away to Toronto, where she was targeted by pimps and sold into the sex trade. She was beaten by a pimp — the father of her eldest child — whom she had charged and testified against. He received a sentence of six and a half years.
Wadud said there were several moments in her life that changed her path: becoming pregnant with her daughter, going to the transitional year program at the University of Toronto, which she said helped to shed light on her experience as an indigenous woman. Meeting her birth mother six years ago was also an important moment in her life. She has also connected with her culture and spirituality and now is a sun dancer.
When the pieces of her puzzle came together, she said her passion was lit to show empathy and compassion for women and girls who have similar experiences. She had a few people she could turn to in her early life, such as her aunt when her adoptive mother abused her and a group home worker when she was in the child welfare system. When she reported her abusive pimp to the police, the police had a specialized unit and the members of which supported her. She was able to move forward with prosecution. Wadud said such specialized forces, specific to human trafficking, as well as stricter laws, are what’s needed in Canada.
Wadud, now 36, is a recipient of the Soroptimist International of the Americas Live Your Dream Awards. The $10,000 prize will give her stability and financial support as she continues her work.She is in Saskatoon to speak at the Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre at an event co-hosted by Soroptimist Saskatoon and the U of S Aboriginal Initiatives. Wadud was nominated through the Vancouver Soroptimist chapter, and the funds go toward helping with recipients’ education and projects.
The talk coincides with Stop Trafficking Day in Saskatoon, which the city proclaimed Jan. 11 to be, at the request of Soroptimist Saskatoon. The Soroptimist organization worldwide has advocated to end human trafficking, sexual slavery and abuse.
Sharing her story is important to her because it goes back to letting other girls and women know that they’re not alone “and that they are deserving, they’re deserving of all the basic human rights and then some, to know they are worthy of safety, they are worthy of protection, and they’re worthy of a better life.”
Published on: January 10th, 2017