Human trafficking in Canada has a unique aspect of its own. Shae Invidiata, the event coordinator of the panel, Buying Sex Is Not Sport, talks about sex trafficking in Canada, its root causes and characteristics.
According to the researches, many human trafficking victims [in Canada] are aboriginal women and girls. Do you think it is true? If so, what is the reason behind their victimization?
Yes I do think this is true. Two reasons that human trafficking occurs are because of poverty and vulnerability. Unfortunately the Canadian government has neglected funding and support for many years in our aboriginal communities, leaving them in poverty—making these communities quite vulnerable and susceptible to traffickers. The lack of support from the government has caused drugs, abuse, lack of education, crime and so forth to run rampage in these communities. Traffickers recruit, manipulate and coerce women and children from their communities offering them a “way out” of poverty; the traffickers take these women and girls to different cities throughout Canada offering them a “better life.” In a sick and twisted way, traffickers appear to offer these women a better life than what their government has provided for their communities.
Aboriginals are an easier target for traffickers as they know that these communities are often overlooked. A prime example of this is the 520 murders of aboriginal women over the decades, which if this was another ethnic group with this type of tragedy (and statistic), the government would have stepped in a lot sooner.
Also, it is hard for anyone to believe that the rights of aboriginal girls are not as well represented as others in Canada, when the country takes human rights issues very seriously. Is there reason behind it?
The fact that in the 2009 HDI rankings, Canada is ranked #4 in the world for Human Development, it is devastating that our aboriginal people are living in such poverty and social brokenness. Over the years, Canada has only neglected more the responsibility that we have to our aboriginal communities to give them aid and see poverty made history amongst the aboriginal people.
How do you feel about the fact that the private bill proposed by MP Joy Smith regarding human trafficking will not be enforced?
There has been quite some opposition in regards to Bill C-268; some of the opposition say that the Bill does not give a strong enough minimum [sentence], that five years is not long enough. Another opposing view is that placing a mandatory minimum takes away the discretionary power of the judge. I agree that a minimum of five years is too little of a sentence, and that we should at least have stronger laws than Thailand if we are not going to have laws that are comparable with the United States. Addressing the discretionary power of a judge is a bit more complex to address in just a few words, but redirecting this back to your original questions I feel that Canada has really turned a blind eye to this important issue of trafficking, ESPECIALLY with the Olympics coming. There are no other Bills that are being brought forth to consider or vote on at the moment to strengthen our legal system and protect victims of trafficking, so at least Joy Smith, even if it’s not the “best” Bill or the most “ideal” it is better than nothing—and right now, Canada has nothing. I am disappointed in our government, and the lack urgency that should be in place to fight this horrific injustice—especially when it has involved and continues to involve hundreds of our own citizens