Although the Red Deer-based Magdalene House itself remains closed for now, the staff’s work of raising awareness about the horrors of human trafficking continues.
The Society was forced to close its doors late last year as levels of funding weren’t enough to keep the organization running. Magdalene House operates a recovery home for women who have been exploited through human trafficking.
According to the web site, trafficking typically begins, “With a betrayal of trust, lured by false promises: a runaway offered a safe home, girls promised jobs as models or domestic workers and most often girls who thought their trafficker was their boyfriend.
“When women and girls are coerced into the sex industry, they are often then forced into committing crimes such as prostitution-related offences and drug trafficking.”
Magdalene House first opened in April of 2015, said David Bouchard, president of the organization’s board.
“The House is still closed until we receive further funding, but we will continue as a Society because we have a direction we are taking in regards to awareness that we think is really important,” he said, adding that staff will continue visiting middle schools and high schools to educate young people about the dangers of human trafficking.
“We talk about the tricks that traffickers use to lure people into the sex trade,” he said, adding that one of the key aspects to this revolves around Internet safety.
“We think it’s a conversation they need to have at the Grade 8 and Grade 9 level already with regard to all of the things we’ve been hearing,” he said. “We’ve already been into a couple of schools, and the response has been very positive. So we are going to continue along that vein,” he said.
In the meantime, staff continue to apply for funding so the House itself can resume normal operations.
“We’re continuing to apply for funding to the provincial and federal governments and to work with our MLAs to have them help us find out the resources that we can use. We’ve applied for seven different federal and provincial grants, and each time we’ve been turned down. But we are just going to keep plugging away,” he said.
To date, Magdalene House has been supported by private donations, fundraising events and a number of local churches.
Bouchard said some people have stayed at the House for two months – others for up to six months.
Looking ahead, several fundraising and awareness-building events are scheduled over the coming months.
First up, Magdalene House is partnering with Unveil Studios for a screening of the acclaimed film She Has A Name at Woody Nook Christian Reformed Church on May 23rd at 7:30 p.m. To reserve tickets call the church office at 403-885-4427 or Magdalene House at 587-273-4324.
Another screening is set to run at Living Stones Church on June 16th.
“We also have our Freedom Walk on June 3rd,” he said. “We want to have as many people come as possible, to come and walk and say every step they take is a step for freedom in another person’s life – a person exploited by human trafficking.”
A golf tournament is also coming up on Aug. 18th.
“We’re looking for sponsors, we are looking for players and prizes – the whole gamut,” he said. “We are hoping for the public to choose Magdalene House as their ‘charity of choice’ for this year.”
In the meantime, anyone interested in supporting Magdalene House, or looking for more about any of these coming events, can visit www.magdalenehouse.ca or call 587-273-4324. Find them on facebook under ‘The Magdalene House’.