by Lucie Roy
More than 40 people from Morinville and Legal attended a presentation at the Citadel Centre on human trafficking, presented by David Bouchard, president of the Magdalene House Society. The Society is a charitable organization that provides a safe environment for the full recovery of people that have been exploited by Human Trafficking. The Legal Catholic Women’s League hosted the presentation Mar. 11.
Human trafficking is considered the fastest growing crime worldwide. Bouchard educated people on the signs and possible red flags on this abuse.
“Human Trafficking is the modern day slavery, and it is alive and well In Canada,” Bouchard said. “The youngest on record was 12 years old. A report from the Canadian Women’s Foundation indicates 93 per cent of Canada’s trafficking victims come from Canada.”
Those number are up from a 2007 report. At that time, 60 per cent of those being exploited in human trafficking in Canada were Canadian, the other 40 per cent from other parts of the world.
Human trafficking is the act or recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons by means of threats, coercion, abduction, fraud, or deception. Abuse of power for the purpose of exploitation, forced labour or services are also considered human trafficking.
“Anyone can become a victim of human trafficking regardless of nationality, ethnicity, age, gender or socio-economic status,” Bouchard said, adding the exploited can be Canadian citizens, permanent residents, temporary workers, international students or refugees.
The presentation covered the key distinctions between trafficking and smuggling. Smuggling comes with consent, trafficking does not.
The Catholic Women’s League, who hosted the event, has a long involvement in the eradication of Human Trafficking. In 2013, the national council of the Catholic Women’s League of Canada urged the federal government to enforce the criminalization of the purchase of sexual services. In Alberta, many parish and diocesan councils have assisted the initiative by doing awareness and fundraising events. In 2013, all members of the Knights of Columbus in Alberta were asked to take a more active role in the fight to end human trafficking.
More information on Magdalane House Society is available on their website at magdalenehouse.ca.