Central Albertans are all welcome to join the Magdalene House in their annual walk to raise awareness and funds for the prevention of human trafficking.
Since its inception in March of 2009, the Magdalene House has been working towards their ultimate goal of having a housing facility for victims of human trafficking.
“The major focus for us is to be able to provide awareness that this house is a necessity,” said David Bouchard, president of the board of directors for Magdalene House.
Bouchard said the current goal is to raise enough money to start the operation of the house.
“The funds we are raising now will help offset some of the expenses once we are able to operate. We want to be able to serve victims of human trafficking both male and female.”
The Magdalene House has had other recent fundraisers including a pasta fiesta during which Miss Canada spoke to the audience.
“This year we have MP Joy Smith coming who has worked hard to fight human trafficking across Canada.”
Smith will be at the opening ceremonies for the walk, which is taking place on June 9 at 9 a.m. People who wish to see Smith speak are invited to do so with no obligation to take part in the walk.
She has worked very hard inside the federal government to create awareness regarding ways to end human trafficking in Canada, said Bouchard.
Smith has also introduced bills including C-310, which broadens the definition of trafficking and provides a means to deal with Canadian citizens and permanent residents who enslave people outside of Canada.
Bill C-310 has already seen three readings in the House of Commons and will be sent further to the Senate for their deliberation.
One of the issues that the Magdalene House wishes to address is the fact that people are being exploited and trafficked in Canada but that many people never see it or know what’s going on. The goal for the house is to ultimately be able to shelter 12 – 20 victims at any one time.
Bouchard explained that the public is often unaware of the emotional turmoil that a victim of trafficking has suffered.
“They need a lot of specialized care. They can’t just be put in a shelter for domestic abuse or a homeless shelter and think they’re going to get better on their own. They need an extensive type of care.”
The Magdalene House will work to rehabilitate victims of human trafficking as well as promoting awareness so that the public can play a part in alerting the authorities to potential sexual or labour trafficking violations.
To register for the walk, visit the contact page at www.magdalenehouse.ca and request a pledge form. There is a $25 registration fee payable on the walk day but it will be waived if participants raise $100 or more.
“People are aware that trafficking happens in other countries but they don’t expect that it’s happening right here in Canada or even possibly here in Red Deer.”