Working to stop human trafficking
It wasn’t until Jason Hodson, pastor at CrossRoads Community Church in Kenton, met Corporal Ed Riglin, RCMP officer from Virden, in 2011 that his eyes were opened to the shocking reality of human trafficking in Canada.
Hodson invited Corporal Riglin to speak to his church in Kenton, where he shared about his work battling human trafficking, child pornography and sexual exploitation while serving on the RCMP Integrated Child Exploitation (ICE) unit. Riglin, spoke about the work done by his mother, Joy Smith, a former MP from Winnipeg.
Hodson explained, “As a church, we want to strongly support this effort to eradicate this horrible crime and educate as broadly as possible to save young girls’ lives.”
He adds, “I personally want to call men to a higher moral ground and to help men realize the truth, that almost without exception the girls in the sex industry are not there of their own volition.”
Joy Smith has worked tirelessly to bring forth new legislation for longer minimum sentencing of human trafficking crime and to convict Canadian men who are johns and those who traffic girls in other countries.
“Canada has finally changed its view on prostitution. The johns, not the girls, are charged for engaging with prostitutes, who are for the most part, forced and trapped in the lifestyle of drugs, alcohol and sex slavery,” states Smith.
According to the best statistics available, human trafficking is a $36 billion industry worldwide that involves up to 30 million people. Canadian girls as young as 13 are being lured into this underground trade.
Smith now works full-time for the charitable organization in her name, Joy Smith Foundation, which she created to educate the public and to rescue victims of this trade. The foundation provides funding to rehabilitate victims of this debilitating crime. Counselling, medical costs, and schooling that survivors need to resume life can cost up to $600,000.
Rural Manitoba problem
“It is our desire to prevent this crime from occurring as much as possible,” states Smith. “Countless young women, especially young aboriginal women, have even lost their lives to this increasing problem of men wanting and paying for sex.”
For parents or caregivers, there are key signs to watch for in order to prevent a loved one from getting caught up in it.
Smith shares stories such as an account of a rural Manitoba girl who started dating a guy she met at a sports event. He was handsome, and slightly older than her. She was sixteen at the time. He showered her with gifts, took her to dinner in the city, told her how beautiful she was.
She fell in love, moved in with him, and then the story changed dramatically.
He was a trafficker, and she was his target.
The public is invited to hear Smith at CrossRoads Community Church on Oct 14. For more information, visit www.joysmithfoundation.com or contact Jason Hodson at (204) 851-0451 for information about the Kenton presentation.
About Joy Smith
Joy Smith was a teacher for 23 years, a Member of the Manitoba Legislature from 1999-2003 and a Member of Parliament from 2004-2015.
She first became aware of human trafficking from her police officer son, Edward, who was working in the Integrated Child Exploitation Unit. Over the years, Smith has helped many young victims who have been exploited or trafficked by their abusers.
In Parliament, Smith made Canadian history as the first sitting MP to amend the Criminal Code twice, passing Bill C-268, mandatory minimum sentencing for trafficking of children 18 years and younger, and Bill C-310, which reaches Canadian law into other countries where Canadian citizens or permanent residents traffic or exploit others abroad.