The fabric that connects all humans is possibly the very fact that we are all humans. That we share empathy with each other. That we care and nurture our ‘own’. Sadly, at times, this empathy and compassion falter. This December, our store will be participating in a fundraising campaign to raise funds to combat Human Trafficking and the Sex Trade – Dressember.


Earlier this decade, the founder of Dressember, Blythe Hill, became aware and concerned about modern slavery and human trafficking. She wanted to do something to help those immediately affected by this industry. She decided that she would wear a dress for every day in December to raise funds. The response was position and as a result, she created Dressember. The Dressember campaign has now spread across the world and is raising significant funds to help those in need.

People have used countless ways to raise funds – head shaving, growing a mustache, riding a lawnmower, running, walking, rowing across an ocean, etc. Dressember uses a dress (or tie) as the vehicle of choice to raise funds and awareness to combat human trafficking.

Why Will Earth’s General Store Participate in Dressember?

Since we opened our store in 1991, we have been involved in combating human slavery. Our store incorporated many Fair Trade certified products into our store. We just didn’t want coffee or chocolate in our store – we wanted those items to have societal values incorporated into them.  Consequently, many of our chocolate, tea, and coffee are Certified Fair Trade and Certified Organic.

In 2004, we bought a coffee roaster so we could roast our own Fair Trade and Organic coffee beans thereby creating an Edmonton connection with the growers of our coffee beans.

In 2003, I co-presented at the University of Alberta with Kevin Bales of Free the Slaves regarding Fair Trade and slavery. Kevin was gracious enough to also come to the store and give a presentation about slavery when he was here collecting the Human Rights Award of the University of Alberta.

For several years, we/I hosted documentary/discussion evenings and each year we would include one or two about slavery – like Stolen Childhood, China Blue, Dreams Die Hard, Half the Sky, and Born into Brothels.

We have been involved in this issue for many years and Dressember is another way that we can highlight this industry – an industry that needs to be eradicated for all of our societies.

We also provide our staff the Edmonton Living Wage.

Human Trafficking and Slavery

Human trafficking is the buying and selling of humans for labour and/or the sex trade.  We/I am against this whole industry down to my very core. Human trafficking includes children, women, and men. It can exist in plain sight and throughout our society.

Facts and figures: [Source]

  • An estimated 40.3 million people are in modern slavery, including 24.9 in forced labour and 15.4 million in forced marriage.
  • There are 5.4 victims of modern slavery for every 1,000 people in the world.
  • 1 in 4 victims of modern slavery are children.
  • Out of the 24.9 million people trapped in forced labour, 16 million people are exploited in the private sector such as domestic work, construction or agriculture; 4.8 million people in forced sexual exploitation, and 4 million people in forced labour imposed by state authorities.
  • Women and girls are disproportionately affected by forced labour, accounting for 99% of victims in the commercial sex industry, and 58% in other sectors.

These are our fellow humans. How can we ignore their plight?

I can’t. So I am going to do something about it.

How will Earth’s General Store Participate in Dressember?Ask me why I am wearing this dress button

Well, it is about wearing a dress in December and that is exactly what the store owner and founder will do. Michael Kalmanovitch will wear a dress every day for the month of December.

How can you support this fundraising campaign?

Please visit our Dressember Earth’s General Store fundraising page. The donation will be in US dollars. You can also drop off donations at the store, leave your change in our donation box, take a photograph with Michael and share on your social media network so that you are letting your friends know that you care about human trafficking.

Our target is $350US. We would love to go beyond this target.

When you submit your donation they ask if you will help cover the credit card service charge of an additional 3% and that helps cut down their overhead and more money will go to the programs.

What can you do to help end Human Trafficking?

Remember to purchase Fair Trade and Organic products. Doing so will send a message to the people that work in Third World/Majority World countries that make/grow products we consume here in Edmonton we respect what they do for us. All those other companies may then decide that they need to change their supply chain so that they don’t purchase cocoa, coffee, tea or some other commodity that could include slave labour.

Please, never consume paid sex. The exploitative sex trade needs to be starved of customers and die.

Be vigilant. Human trafficking exists in Edmonton. They might be sex workers, domestic workers, the person serving you your coffee at a fast food chain, etc. and they might seem invisible, but they are here. Listen, watch and report if you suspect that something is amiss.

December 2nd is International Day for the Abolition of Slavery. Learn more about this issue.

Watch “Doing Money” from BBC when it becomes available online.

Here is a couple of websites that have lists of films and documentary on this issue from IMDB, from here, or here. Once you have watched one or more of these documentaries you will get an understanding of the scope of the issue.

Men – if you or you know someone that buys sex – STOP!

Stop consuming pornography. Starve the industry.

Social Media for Dressember

#Dressember #ItsBiggerThanADress #HumanTrafficking

Facebook – @OfficialDressember @EarthsGeneralStore

Twitter – @Dressember @EarthsGeneral

Instagram – @Dressember @EarthsGeneralStore

Michael in a dress sporting Fair Trade Button and Dressember burron