Newfoundland and Labrador initiatives on Human Trafficking

The Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy of Newfoundland, together with other religious congregations, NGO and police force members are part of the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Trafficking Committee.  The aim of the committee is to end Human Trafficking through public awareness, services to trafficked persons, advocacy, and resources and training support to law enforcement.

Their objectives are to:

1) Ensure a coordinated effort to provide a first and second response to victims of Human Trafficking.

2) Raise awareness of Human Trafficking in the community and create a network of contacts so that victims of Human Trafficking can be identified and supported.

The activities of the committee involve:-

  • Developing first and second response teams.
  • Developing of an Operational Handbook for the first and second response teams.
  • Recruitment and identification of training opportunities for team and Committee members and the community.
  • Developing an information package on the NL Human Trafficking Committee.
  • Maintaining a list-serve of interested community contacts and organizations.

In  March 2012, the Institute Of The Blessed Virgin Mary Canadian Province (Loreto Sisters) sponsored a conference of all organizations/individuals interested in the issue of Human Trafficking. The title of the conference was Human Trafficking: Breaking the Chains  and it took place in Toronto, Ontario.  Over two hundred people attended the conference, coming from diverse backgrounds:  high school students, women and men religious, representatives of non-governmental agencies, aboriginal persons, group home workers, etc. Elizabeth Davis rsm facilitated the conference.

Some of the major conclusions were as follows:-

1. Human trafficking is modern day slavery.  Marginalized women and children are being purchased by educated men.

2. Persons being trafficked are real people – women, girls and boys whose voices must be heard as we work to bring this horror to an end.  The most vulnerable women and children are identified and targeted.  Our society is accountable for reducing the vulnerabilities of persons which allow human trafficking to continue.

3.Human trafficking is based on control, exploitation and profit and is rooted in racism, sexism and classism.

4.This is a matter both domestic and international.  While many might have thought it is primarily international in nature and related to human smuggling, in fact most human trafficking in Canada is domestic – Canadian women and children being trafficked to Canadian men.

5.This modern slavery has not been brought to an end because of ignorance of the issue by so many Canadians and complicity by so many others.  The sex trade is highly organized and integrated and brings in much money for those who control it.  The response, therefore, must also be highly organized and integrated if we are to be successful in bringing this form of slavery to an end.

6.New legislation is needed but is slow in coming and still fails to target the persons buying the sex services thus keeping the sex trade in business.

7.Actions to end this crime include increasing awareness and education, strengthening of gender equality, decreasing vulnerabilities of women and children, working to change and strengthen legislation, working to influence hotels, airlines and businesses which sometimes inadvertently support human trafficking either through ignorance or complicity; strengthening education for health professionals, strengthening programs for aftercare and rehabilitation and affordable housing for survivors, and changing society by changing images which support prostitution and the sex trade.

8.Many resources are available to assist in increasing awareness and education.

9. The success of efforts to end human trafficking lies in creating partnerships, in collaboration among organizations.

Sister Elizabeth concluded the proceedings by encouraging each person to leave  committed to at least one new action which he or she would undertake to add to the efforts of all those determined to end the slavery of human trafficking.

Full details of the conference are linked here (pdf)

Messages to: Margie Taylor