Human trafficking is a serious problem that often does not take precedence amongst many others. Montréal Love146 Task Force, a group of local activists that works with international anti-human trafficking organization Love146, held its first benefit concert on Wednesday. Titled Sound of Love, the concert was held at La Vitrola and featured local bands Secret Sun, What If Elephants, and CTZNSHP.
The Task Force—which currently has five members—meets once every one or two weeks to study human trafficking in Montreal. They work to raise awareness about human trafficking and to protect the vulnerable youth of Montreal from getting involved with the sex trade.
“It’s a double mission,” said Margot Mollat, a Task Force member and U2 Management student. “On one hand, [we’re] preventing anyone from entering the sex [trafficking] industry, and on the other hand [we’re] raising awareness in general to people who have no clue what is going on in Montreal.”
According to Task Force director Beth Gowing, the streets of Montréal are lined with countless bars and strip clubs, and these venues create many opportunities for sex trafficking.
“A lot of people don’t realize that there is sex trafficking going on in the strip clubs that they might go to on a party weekend, [or] at massage parlors,” Gowing explained. “Bringing awareness to the fact that this is happening is an important way to decrease demand and [to] prevent it from happening.”
Jesse LeGallais, lead vocalist and bassist of CTZNSHP, echoed Gowing’s sentiment.
“Sex slavery and child trafficking are far more prominent in our societies [than] people might think,” LeGallais said.
Gowing also stressed the importance of looking beyond the numbers and statistics, and recognizing each survivor of human trafficking as an individual.
“It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers,” she said. “But it’s important to think about the personal stories of survivors […] and remember that each human being has worth and dignity.”
“[People] always throw around jokes about pornography or prostitution or pimps, but there is a true problem beneath that, [and] we need to question what […] we need to do as citizens, and what […] the government needs to do as an institution to make sure that trafficking ends one day,” said Mollat.
The concert was a small gathering, with powerful music and a friendly audience comprised mostly of McGill students. The show opened up with an intimate performance by pop duo Secret Sun, who set the stage for the rest of the night. The concert picked up steam with an energetic soundtrack delivered by What If Elephants, a four-piece indie pop-rock band, and came to a close with a number of hazy, echo-like anthems performed by new wave trio CTZNSHP.
Concert attendee Michael Gong, U1 Science student, commented on the engaging performances.
“What If Elephants [were] flat out amazing,” Gong said. “They brought a good deal of energy to the stage, [and] made a point of engaging the audience, which was a lot of fun.”
Joey Langlois, lead vocalist and guitarist of What If Elephants commented on his support for the cause behind the benefit concert.
“It’s cool to see how the music industry in Montreal [comes] together to support good causes,” he said. “I thought it was really successful [for] a first event.”
Task Force member Brittany Davis, U3 Arts, expressed her gratitude towards her teammates and the audience for engaging in the fight against human trafficking.
The Montréal Love146 Task Force’s benefit concert took the Montreal community one step closer to recognizing the depth of human trafficking while listening to crowd-pleasing music from local musicians. Sound Of Love could not have been named more appropriately.