MPs Learn About Human Trafficking at Edmonton Event

The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights launched a national consultation on human trafficking in February. This all-party committee visited Edmonton on March 22 as part of a cross-country, five city tour. They met at the Commonwealth Stadium with EPS, RCMP, and many community organizations working to support victims of human trafficking, whether through labour exploitation or sexual exploitation. Committee members met with survivors of sex trafficking who gathered at the CEASE office. Later they visited A Safe Place, which has a designated space for women who are trafficked.

Randy Boissonnault, MP for Edmonton Centre, is a member of the Justice Committee. When asked to share his thoughts on what he learned, he replied: “One of the things that shocked me was the degree to which family trafficking is taking place. That family members would take advantage like that is a very disheartening reminder of the cruelty of some people toward their own children.

We also heard that the issue of human trafficking is complex. We must have a better understanding of what it is and that it doesn’t always involve kidnapping and gangs. It can be your server at a restaurant who was trafficked for the purposes of labour exploitation.”

Those who spoke stressed that poverty is one key driver for human trafficking, creating vulnerabilities that traffickers prey upon. Another harsh reality is that neither law enforcement nor community organizations have sufficient funding to work on comprehensive strategies and provide resources to those who are exploited. A second driver is the demand for cheap labour and exploitative sex. It is simple but true – without consumer demand, traffickers wouldn’t have a profit motive to exploit human beings.

As an Edmontonian, Randy was impressed. “There are many talented organizations in our city that are working so hard to end human trafficking, and to support those who have survived trafficking. It is heartening to know we have a community that cares so much. Additionally, we are setting an example for collecting data (through ACT Alberta) which is helpful from a policy perspective. The work that organizations like YESS and iHuman are doing for homeless and at risk youth makes me proud.”

He concluded, “I am proud that our government is looking into this issue. We’ll be working hard with stakeholders to have a report that can make a difference in people’s lives.“

Kate is the Executive Director of the Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation (CEASE).

More in this issue

Neighbourhood Views

  • Thanking the Plows – 110 Avenue in McCauley, between 92 Street and 95 Street, is very narrow because it was one of the first streets in Edmonton to have houses built along it. So, in the winter, the plows have nowhere to move the snow to but onto the sidewalk. When the snow began to melt this spring, it made huge puddles on the sidewalks, which turned to ice at night and made the road so narrow it was almost impassible. Joanne called the City and asked for their help to move the ice and snow. A few days later, two snowplows arrived and did an excellent job of cleaning up the spring mess. She wrote and thanked them for their work, and her photos are being included in a City employee newspaper, along with her thanks. It never hurts to say thank you when people do a great job! Joanne McNeal

  • Fuel for Hunger Feeds Thousands – Moe Duval (front) and his crew of volunteers served chili lunches on the street by Bissell Centre and other inner city locations every Sunday during the winter months. The group, which is not affiliated with any agency, made the chili them- selves and served about 6500 bowls of chili between December and March (approximately 500 bowls each Sunday). For more information, search for “Fuel for Hunger” on Facebook. Jim Gurnett

  • Speaking Truth to Power – The annual Outdoor Way of the Cross took place on March 30 (Good Friday). Around 300 people took part in the walk, with numbers down a bit due to the cold weather - the coldest temperatures in the walk’s 39-year history. This year’s theme was “Speaking truth to power,” a Quaker saying used in the 50s and 60s in anti-war activities (and based on Jesus saying “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free”). Stations looked at housing security, Truth and Rec- onciliation recommendations, police/courts/prisons, the environment, working people, and older people/isolation. For the first time, the Cross was carried past the new Royal Alberta Museum building. Michael Hoyt

  • Ukrainian Community Easter Celebration – On March 17 and 18, the exhibition of archive photos “History of UNF, UWO & UNYF in Pictures” took place at the Ukrainian National Federation Hall located at 10629 98 Street. The exhibition featured photographs from 1934 to 2012. Pictured above is the youth ensemble Dzherelo during a concert featuring young performers. Mykola Vorotylenko

  • Pets: A Part of Home – One part of “home” for me, is the pets we keep as part of our family. They provide love, affection, joy, and hope when we need it most. My two rescue dogs keep me walking when I don’t even feel like going outside, because they love to go for walks. Last month, I lost one of my rescued cats, Charlie, who I named after my grandfather. He was only about eight years old, but a month or so ago his breathing became laboured, and he began to lose weight. He never complained - he just wanted to sit on my lap and be stroked, so we did that. He died on Saturday night, April 7. My home feels so different without him. I took this photo of him in March, and to me he looks unwell even then. Poor little guy. I miss him. Joanne McNeal

  • Ukrainian Community Easter Celebration – On March 17 and 18, the exhibition of archive photos “History of UNF, UWO & UNYF in Pictures” took place at the Ukrainian National Federation hall located at 10629 98 Street. The Ukrainian National Federation (UNF) celebrated its 85th anniversary last year, and on March 23, 2018 the Ukrainian Women’s Organization (UWO) celebrated its 85th anniversary. The exhibition featured photographs from 1934 to 2012. Pictured above are participants in a watercolour workshop by artist Valeriy Semenko (front, kneeling). Mykola Vorotylenko

Around the Neighbourhood

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