Grab a good pair of running shoes, or get the bike tuned up because the Joy Smith Foundation is preparing for their annual Joy in Action fundraiser.

The Joy Smith Foundation is a non-profit organization that aims to end human trafficking in Canada. They have worked with over 7,000 cases of survivors and their families to heal and restore their lives. On top of that, they also provide educational programs to bring awareness and prevention.

CEO and President of the Joy Smith Foundation, Janet Campbell wants people to know that human trafficking is not only an issue in other neighbourhoods and other countries, but it is very much present in Winnipeg as well.

"In fact, it's so prevalent that within a kilometre of where we're sitting right now, somebody is being lured and groomed into human trafficking and 93 per cent of individuals that are trafficked in Canada were born in Canada," says Campbell.

To bring awareness to this issue, The Joy Smith Foundation is hosting their annual Joy in Action free event from August 12-20 with an in-person event being held on the opening day at 9 a.m. in Birds Hill Park. It will be the organization's first in-person awareness event since 2019.

The physical event is not only an opportunity for participants to join the community in their activities, but to also learn everything that revolves around human trafficking and how to prevent it.

"What I love about this event is, absolutely, it does raise important funds for us to be able to deliver all our programming, all of our prevention programming and intervention programming and work that we do with survivors; we provide that all for free. But it's a real multiplier in that it mobilizes people and it engages people. As people come and participate or as people are asked by their family and friends to donate, it's a wonderful opportunity for them to actually have human trafficking on their radar and learn about it and really engage in protecting their own communities."

The virtual event is open to everyone across Canada. Participants can walk, run, cycle or choose an activity of their choice to raise funds for the organization's Intervention and Prevention Programs. Click here to register.

Campbell says the human trafficking enterprise is one of the fastest growing networks with many factors contributing to it but a significant one is the fact that these cases go widely unreported.

"I think that people can be afraid to come forward. It's a very difficult path for somebody once they have experienced it. They're often very afraid...It often takes on the form of a girlfriend/boyfriend type of relationship as well. So, it's one of those where it goes from being okay and you think you're in a relationship and then it turns, and it's very difficult for those that are affected to get away."