TWU Nursing students raise funds and awareness to help victims of human trafficking

“I believe that every person, as a child made in the image of God, holds intrinsic value and has the right to freedom and dignity. I loved that Dressember provided an opportunity to participant in the fight against human trafficking by supporting an organization that is already making a tangible impact around the world."
—Laura Stead, TWU Nursing student

TWU Nursing students started an initiative in December 2020 called the "Dressember challenge" with the goal of supporting those who have been victims of human trafficking. The students' goal was to raise $3,900 through the Dressember campaign for the NGO International Justice Mission, in order to help fund a human trafficking rescue operation.

By the end of the project, the students happily reported having raised over $12,000—enough funds for three rescue operations.

“Dressember exists to empower all people to use their voices and style choices to fight for freedom,” said nursing student Emma Hansen.

She and fellow nursing student Emma Martins were the project's coordinators. 

Martins said, “Dressember has been an opportunity to raise awareness and funds that go directly to International Justice Mission, where their teams are actively fighting, each and every day, to end human trafficking. But beyond that, it’s been an opportunity to change my misperceptions about what human trafficking is and where human trafficking occurs. It’s been a channel for the anger that I feel for those who have suffered at the hand of traffickers and a way to make a tangible difference."

The Dressember challenge involved wearing a dress (or tie) every day for the month of December in order to raise awareness and funds for the fight against human trafficking. While wearing a dress (or tie) lasted for the month of December, fundraising extended until the end of January.

Martins said she "couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this kind of change."
Hansen added, "I often feel defeated by my apparent inability to enact change in response to the heartbreaking statistics of human trafficking. I don’t have the resources to lead a rescue mission, and I don’t have the LSAT score to turn me into a justice-seeking lawyer. But what I do have is a couple of dresses, a voice to speak about them, and a community to support the vision behind wearing them. This is why I do Dressember: because I can, because I should, and because it works.”

Hansen and Martin explained that human trafficking is a criminal act that strips millions of people of their freedom and dignity every day through physical and emotional abuse, deception, manipulation, and/or sexual exploitation. The most common forms of human trafficking are the sex trade, sexual exploitation, forced labour and domestic servitude.

"We feel strongly that because advocacy is a key part of the nursing profession, this is a tangible way for us to advocate for the well-being of others," they explained.

"This is also a unique way to unite the School of Nursing body, students and faculty included, towards a common, altruistic cause. In a year of limited face-to-face interactions and virtually no in-person events, this is a way to still participate in community and support one another," they added.

During the Dressember challenge, the School of Nursing rallied 21 participants and 138 donors from around the TWU community. Together they raised a total of $12,651.58. Funds raised went to support International Justice Mission (IJM) Canada. 

Laura Stead, one of the top fundraisers, said, “I believe that every person, as a child made in the image of God, holds intrinsic value and has the right to freedom and dignity." 

"I loved that Dressember provided an opportunity to participant in the fight against human trafficking by supporting an organization that is already making a tangible impact around the world. It was a great way to advocate, educate, and invite others to participate using means I already had access to—daily conversations with others, my social media platform, a few creative ideas, and of course, my closet! I was inspired by the generosity and willingness of others to support such a worthy cause.”                

See also — TWU Public Health Lead Taryne Lepp guides the university's COVID-19 response:​
TWU News

About Trinity Western University

Founded in 1962, Trinity Western University is Canada’s premier Christian liberal arts university dedicated to equipping students to establish meaningful connections between career, life, and the needs of the world. It is a fully accredited research institution offering liberal arts and sciences, as well as professional schools in business, nursing, education, human kinetics, graduate studies, and arts, media, and culture. It has four campuses and locations: Langley, Richmond-Lansdowne, Richmond-Minoru, and Ottawa. TWU emphasizes academic excellence, research, and student engagement in a vital faith community committed to forming leaders to have a transformational impact on culture. Learn more at or follow us on Twitter @TrinityWestern, on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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