By: Maria Lanthier IBVM
The Issue: Urgent Need for a Canadian National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking

Slavery in the 21st Century

Last week, I attended a one day York University conference entitled SLAVERY IN THE 21st CENTURY. Martin Van Doren, RCMP co-ordinator for human trafficking awareness in Ontario, stated “Human Trafficking is still prevalent across Canada”. Violent criminals are preying on Canadian girls as young as 14. A Canadian strategy, now sadly lacking, needs to come into place.”

The conference speakers were unanimous in their belief that Canada must form a national strategy plan, encouraging organizations to communicate together and to co-operate as teams across provincial borders. This must include all NGOs involved in the fight against human trafficking. The traffickers are proving to be too smart for groups and individuals working on their own; they well know how to pass around their opposition when it is divided and scattered.

As a result of poor coordination

Slavery, for the sex industry and for various forms of labour, is increasing today across Canada in the following categories:

  • Women and girls from poor families from South East Asia, Africa, Europe
  • Within Canada- aboriginal women and teens
  • Within Canada -“at risk” youths from disadvantaged social and economic families
  • (girls are usually recruited through internet contact)
  • From abroad: women brought here illegally for domestic work in households or in sweatshops
  • Exploited temporary farm labour from Mexico or South America
  • Young boys brought from abroad.


Invisible Chains: Canada’s Underground World of Human TraffickingInvisible Chains: Canada’s Underground World of Human TraffickingInvisible Chains: Canada’s Underground World of Human Trafficking

The conference provided a video presentation from Benjamin Perrin, author of INVISIBLE CHAINS: Canada’s Underground World of Human Trafficking. This book was published in October of 2010 and was widely acclaimed by governments, universities and newspapers across the country. The book is based on a three year investigation and documents cases reported by police, province officials, immigration and non-governmental organizations, as well as accounts from victims and their families.

A Call to Action - ‘Connecting the Dots’

Joy Smith: Joy Smith MP, Kildonian - St PaulJoy Smith: Joy Smith MP, Kildonian - St PaulJoy Smith, Federal Member of Parliament for Kildonian-St. Paul, Manitoba introduced a private member’s bill that was passed was widely supported by the Canadian public and passed by the House of Commons in 2010. This legislation assures significant penalties for those convicted of trafficking in children. Joy was awarded the prestigious Ceremonial Shawl Award by the First Nations Community on January 19, 2011 for her commitment to battling the sexual exploitation of First Nations people.
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Joy Smith, a Member of Parliament for Manitoba, has long been in the fight to stop trafficking. Two years ago she successfully introduced a Bill to Amend the Criminal Code on Trafficking. The amendment asked for a tougher penalty of five years imprisonment for those involved in trafficking children under the age of 18. The Bill (C-268) received support from all stakeholders across the country and successfully became law on June 29, 2010.

Not stopping there however, Joy explained her recently released proposal for a National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking entitled ‘Connecting the Dots’. Her proposal is strongly endorsed by law enforcement agencies and victims groups across Canada.


Take action now to combat human trafficking in Canada

Mail Fax, or e-mail the attached letter to the Prime Minister to the following: The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons, Parliament Buildings
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Letter to Mr. Harper7.99 KB