Mayor Tara Veer recently met with representatives of Red Deer’s Magdalene House Society, Dave and Cathy Bouchard, to sign a declaration stating that Feb. 22nd shall be known as a ‘Day of Awareness on Human Trafficking’ for Red Deer.
Human trafficking is defined by the United Nations as, “The trade in humans, most commonly for the purpose of sexual slavery, forced labour, or for the extraction of bodily organs and tissues.”
While this may not be an issue that hits home for many Red Deerians, the global impact of human trafficking ripples through every country and shows no discrimination in age or race.
“Red Deer is becoming a large city and geographically we are located between two major urban centres where there is substantial organized crime activity and human trafficking is often associated with that,” said Veer.
“As much as we hate to think about it happening in our City, I think it’s important to acknowledge that it can and does occur.”
Veer added through organizations like the Magdalene House Society, citizens can help with the responsibility to ensure that there is somewhere for both men and women to go to recover in the event they have been trafficked.
“We have a responsibility to protect the vulnerable in our society,” said Veer. “The kids and youth among us need protection from this the most and we need to ensure that they have the information needed to prevent themselves from being trafficked and if it does occur that we do all we can to help them recover from their victimization.”
The Bouchards recognized a need for a refuge in Red Deer for those who have been made victims of human trafficking and hope to open a support residence in the near future for those people to recover. “We are very close to getting the recovery house up and running,” said Dave.
“We have already had numerous inquiries from the RCMP asking if they can refer people to us yet so we know there is a need for what we are doing.”
In order to raise funds for the house, the Bouchard’s have opened a store front located at #107, 4929 50 St. (downstairs of Towne Centre Mall) in downtown Red Deer and hope to make themselves known in the community to gain further support and raise awareness.
The Magdalene House Society storefront sells fair trade items from producers who promote sustainability and cruelty-free products. Magdalene House Society invites the community to support fair trade commerce and raise awareness for human trafficking by visiting their Human Trafficking Day of Awareness and Fair Trade Exposition event as well.
The event will be hosted at the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery on Feb. 22nd and will feature a fair trade sale featuring fair trade coffee, chocolate, baking supplies, beauty products, jewelry and clothing.
There will also be a showing of various documentaries at the BMO Capitol Theatre including Nefarious, The Dark Side of Chocolate, and Bangkok Girl.
Guest speaker at the event will be Joy Smith, member of parliament, with a presentation titled, ‘Prostitution Law Struck Down: Now What?’
Smith’s presentation focuses on the changes and amendments to Canada’s prostitution laws. Last December, the Supreme Court of Canada denied the creation of a new law that would make brothels illegal, as well as make it illegal to live on the avails of prostitution and communicate in public with clients.
Smith will speak at both 3 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. with the fair trade exposition taking place from noon to 4:30 p.m.
Tickets are available at the Red Deer Museum or by calling 587-273-4324.