Red Deerians are Free2Walk for Magdalene House

Central Albertan’s are welcome to join the Magdalene House for the awareness and prevention of human trafficking.

The event gets underway on June 11 starting at 10 a.m. at 5579 47 St.

Since it’s inception in March 2009, the Magdalene House has been working towards its ultimate goal of having a housing facility for victims of human trafficking.

“Right now the major focus for us is to be able to provide awareness that this house is a need,” said David Bouchard, president of the board of directors for the Magdalene House.

The event, Free2Walk, is the second annual attempt at creating awareness inside the City. Last year had 14 participants, while this year has 20 – a noticeable increase and an important step for the Magdalene House.

Registration for the event is $15 and can be paid on the day of the event, but people are invited to register online before the event.

One of the issues that the Magdalene House acknowledges is that people are being exploited and trafficked in Canada but most people never see it or know what’s going on.

“We need to get everybody on board. We have some but it’s just not enough.”

Bouchard acknowledges that it will not be possible to provide all of the necessary aid that a victim might need, so the Magdalene House is working with other agencies to see if there are ways to offer support.

There is a house with a similar concept, Deborah’s Gate, in Vancouver. They focus on sexual exploitation and are specifically geared to help female victims.

“We, the Magdalene House, acknowledge that there is a need also for labour trafficking victims and we want to be able to help both men and women.”

The goal for the organization is to be able to house 12 to 20 victims at any one time. Currently, the Magdalene House has applied for funds federally and provincially.

Bouchard also explained that the public can sign up for an annual membership with the Magdalene House. Through this subscription the member would receive information on cases and news regarding trafficking as well as events through the Magdalene House.

One of the most important things for the public to understand is 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 do need an extensive kind of care.”

The Magdalene House believes it to be very important that psychological and physical care be provided to victims. In some cases, the House may even be able to help them find employment or learn the English language.

“One of the things that we recognize too is that it is not just people being brought in from other countries. We have Canadians that are being exploited from one province to the next.”

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.

Bouchard’s hope is that, through a raised awareness, the Magdalene House will gain the membership of long-term supporters looking to eradicate human trafficking offenses and help the victims.

“People are aware that it happens in poor countries; they don’t expect that it’s happening here in Canada, or even possibly here in Red Deer.”

For more information visit www.magdalenehouse.ca.

kpalardy@reddeerexpress.com

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