About the Show
MT Space, the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region (SASC), and the Coalition of Muslim Women (CMW) have teamed up to present Chelsea’s Story, a virtual performance and talkback series running from February 22-24, 2024. The performances coincide with Human Trafficking Awareness Day in Canada on February 22.
Chelsea’s Story is based on a true story. It centres on a group of three students who discover the diary of a 15-year-old girl named Chelsea, who is targeted and groomed by a man posing as her boyfriend to be trafficked for sex.
Chelsea’s Story was written by Sean McGrath (Narrative Alchemy) in the UK for people as young as 12 to understand what trafficking is about and the ways in which those who are vulnerable, particularly girls and young women tend to be targeted and groomed.
All performances of Chelsea’s Story are followed by a talkback with the audience to unpack the play. Each talkback is facilitated by members of community partners from the Sexual Assault Support Centre Waterloo Region (SASCWR) and Towards Violence Free Homes (TVFH) from the Coalition of Muslim Women of KW (CMW-KW).
Chelsea’s Story is available for virtual touring to your school class or youth group.
What audiences have had to say
“Young students need to be as informed as possible to better protect themselves. Schools never provided me with this kind of information.”
– Audience Member, 2019
“It truly does apply to everyone because even the safest people can (be) caught.
This play brings it close to home and helped people take things more seriously.”
– Grade 7 Student Audience Member, 2019
“Found it so impactful (and truthfully unsettling). I learned a lot. My mind is going in a lot of directions.”
– Audience Member, 2021
“I’m truly impressed with how engaged the audience was even though it was virtual.”
– Audience Member, 2021
“I am impressed with the work that went into this endeavor and how it can make such a difference in our awareness. Powerfully acted.”
– Audience member 2023
“Informative, impactful and needs to reach a greater audience. I think Chelsea’s Story can change the world.”
– Audience member 2023
Chelsea’s Story Performance and Talkback Schedule
This event is presented online virtually and free to attend.
- Thursday, February 22, at 6:00pm EST
- Friday, February 23, at 6:00pm EST (with optional simultaneous Arabic translation)
- Saturday, February 24, at 2:00pm EST (with optional simultaneous Hindi translation)
The show runs 75 mins with discussion facilitated by SASCWR following the performances.
More information from SASC-WR: https://www.sascwr.org/chelseas-story
Register for FREE on Humanitix: Register Now
An MT Space Production
Written by Sean McGrath
Directed by Pam Patel
Performed by Abbi Longmire, Nada Abusaleh, Shawn DeSouza-Coelho, Trevor Copp (2024 cast)
Who Should Come?
All performances are open to the public. All performances happen live virtually through Zoom.
The production is of particular interest to three different groups:
- Young people (aged 12+)
- Parents, caregivers, teachers, and professionals working with children & youth
- Law enforcement and people in the hospitality industry
Warning: Although this play is written for people as young as 12, there are some scenes that are disturbing. We recommend that children be accompanied by a caring adult as it may trigger some viewers. If you need support at any time, 24-hour support is available through SASC’s support line at 519-741-8633.
The play has been seen by over 10,000 young people & thousands of professionals in the UK, and over 1,000 here in Waterloo Region and has proven highly effective at covering:
- What makes a Healthy Relationship
- What makes an Unhealthy Relationship
- Safe Internet Use/Sexting
- Recognizing exploitation and understanding grooming
- Avoiding Victim Blaming
- Where to go for help & advice
For adult audiences it also:
- Raises awareness of the warning signs of exploitation
- Raises awareness of the journey that young people may have been on that has resulted in them being exploited – a journey that can all too easily make it seem as though they have ‘made their own choices and can leave them not seeing themselves as victims and fighting against any intervention’.
This play serves as a tool to help students understand and recognize exploitation, what to do if they see it and how to keep themselves and their friends safe. We showed it to 450 grade 7 and 8 students in 2019, and they were engaged with both the play and the after-performance talkbacks. Feedback from teachers and parents was also very positive.
“The only thing that can help is spreading awareness to kids, and honestly just anybody.”
– Grade 7 Student Audience Member 2019
Share the Hashtags
#KnowtheSigns | #EndHumanTrafficking | #ChelseasStoryWR
Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region (SASCWR)
The Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region (SASCWR) offers a specialized Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Using a trauma-informed, harm reduction, and feminist approach, this program provides wrap-around services to those experiencing sexual exploitation and those who are at risk within Waterloo Region. Services are free, confidential, and non-judgmental. This program is accessible to all genders ages 12 and up and is available regardless of immigration status.
Human Sex Trafficking is the sale of humans for sex and it is growing in Waterloo region. Sex Trafficking is organized and lucrative. Girls as young as 12 are lured and trapped into sex trafficking through promises of romance and adventure. Our Joint Waterloo Region Guelph Wellington Human Trafficking Unit laid 45 Criminal Charges pertaining to Human Trafficking in 2020, 121 Criminal Charges pertaining to Human Trafficking in 2021. Awareness is the first step towards action.
Multicultural Theatre Space (MT Space)
MT Space exists to explore cultural intersections amongst people, their histories, and their forms of expression. Drawing upon the wealth of multicultural identities living in the Waterloo Region, MT Space aims to increase activity between performance artists of many disciplines, cultural backgrounds and styles of practice.
- Bringing together culturally diverse artists to share ideas and to collaborate in the development of new forms of theatrical expression.
- Give professional immigrant artists an opportunity to pursue their careers and take part in shaping Canadian culture.
- Create, produce and present contemporary productions locally, nationally and internationally.
- Contribute to the development of a vibrant and inclusive community.
The Coalition of Muslim Women of KW (CMW-KW)
We’re a small, but mighty group of Muslim, racialized, and marginalized women that have been standing up to hate, discrimination, islamophobia, and gender-based violence while promoting community, social cohesion, reconciliation, and equity since 2010. We have a diverse staff of more than 15 dedicated, passionate women, and a vibrant board that represents the diversity of Muslim women.
CMW’s mandate is to serve and support Muslim, racialized, and marginalized women and girls. Our goal is to inspire and empower women and girls to be leaders and change makers as they fortify bridges and nurture conversations between the margins and the larger communities.
Towards Violence Free Homes (TVFH) is a core program of the Coalition of Muslim Women of KW that addresses gender-based violence (GBV) among Waterloo Region racialized Muslim women and their families.
TVFH provides multilingual, culturally responsive resources to women experiencing domestic abuse in Waterloo Region.
- We give women legal resources
- We connect women with the right shelters
- We provide culturally responsive counselling
- We assist women in finding financial support
- We arrange for translation services in diverse languages…and more!
These performances of Chelsea’s Story (2024) are supported by the Waterloo Region Community Foundation.
Though this event is completely free to attend, donations to SASC are welcome to help support survivors in Waterloo Region. Follow this link to contribute.
More About Chelsea’s Story
MT Space and the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region (SASC) are partnering once again to present a week-long run of Chelsea’s Story to commemorate and promote Human Trafficking Awareness Day, which falls on Thursday, February 22nd, 2024. This theatrical production has been adapted to an online format and will be performed live by actors of MT Space from February 22nd to 25th, with each performance accompanied by a talkback facilitated by members of SASC.
The piece is as timely now as it was when it was originally written, with the areas surrounding highway 401 and the QEW seeing the highest levels of human sex trafficking in Southern Ontario. It has been noted that the risks of trafficking have only increased under the conditions of lockdown and isolation that many face during this time of COVID19, with statistics from SASC indicating that those seeking services of online sexual exploitation is up 29% since the start of the pandemic.
MT Space, SASC, and Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council are working together to develop a tour to school boards in Waterloo Region and beyond this April 2022, with this February run of Chelsea’s Story providing an opportunity to educators, parents, and caregivers to experience the play virtually, and unpack its contents through facilitated discussions and workshops. This week will raise awareness of human sex trafficking and online sexual exploitation locally and across Canada, while also starting this conversation with youth in order to build their skills to understand, identify, and prevent and act on exploitation if they see or experience it. Each performance of Chelsea’s Story will be geared towards specific audiences including educators, caregivers, and families with youth.
All tickets to Chelsea’s Story will be free and by donation, with proceeds going towards furthering the anti-trafficking efforts of Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region.
We encourage you to join us for this urgent and relevant conversation, where we can unpack this issue with our families and those we care most about. If you would like to understand more about how human trafficking affects our region, check out the links below:
- RAP Sheet on Human Sex Trafficking (PDF 0.5MB)
- Human Trafficking In Our Communities: A Panel Discussion (Watch > YouTube)
- Reflecting on Chelsea’s Story: An Upstream Conversation (Watch > YouTube)
Why is trafficking awareness important in Waterloo Region?
In 2019, MT Space Artistic Director, Pam Patel, was asked by the local Registry Theatre to direct a Canadian production of Chelsea’s Story. The piece was produced in association with Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council and Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region. This version of Chelsea’s Story was performed at The Registry Theatre as well as William G Davis Senior Elementary School and the local prison for women, the Grand Valley Institute. Each performance of this piece was followed by a debriefing and talk back facilitated by staff from SASC. Parents, patrons, and women who experienced the piece encouraged Chelsea’s Story to continue touring to schools and theatres to raise awareness of the signs of human trafficking.
The Waterloo Regional Police Services reports that in the first 8 months of 2019 they opened 75 investigations of sex trafficking in this region. This is up from 26 cases in 2017. We know that most sex trafficking cases are never reported to the police so the issue is significantly more prevalent than we can see. With the average age of victims being 12 to 15, it is essential that we equip children and caring adults with an understanding of exploitation, how to recognize it, how to stay safe, and what to do if it happens. Chelsea’s Story had been written expressly for these audiences.
Ontario has the highest level of human sex trafficking in Canada, with an estimated 70% of all human trafficking activities taking place in this province (Stats Can 2016). Waterloo Region has become attractive to trafficking because of the ease by which sex traffickers can transport victims over the 400 series of highways. Human sex trafficking is hard to track and is largely going undetected and under-reported.
Human sex trafficking is the sale of humans for sex. It involves deceit, force, coercion, and control of a person by threats of emotional, mental, and sometimes physical violence for sexual exploitation and forced commercial sex. This includes forced prostitution and sexual performance including exotic dancing and the production of pornography.
Human sex trafficking is not sex work which is a consensual transaction between adults. Human sex trafficking is not the same as human smuggling which is the illegal service of bringing people into the country unlawfully. The vast majority of sex trafficking in Canada is domestic, meaning that victimized individuals live in and never leave Canada.
Sponsors and Acknowledgements
Chelsea’s Story 2024 performances made possible by: