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An Ongoing Series of Information


Ten people, including a doctor, charged for trafficking teenage girls in southern Alberta

Aug 13, 2021

A physician is among 10 people charged in a human trafficking investigation in southern Alberta.

Lethbridge police say a 15-year-old girl was selected, groomed and taken to specific locations where the alleged offences took place.

They also allege there was sexual activity with a 13-year-old.

Those charged are from Lethbridge and Calgary and also include a business owner and two teenage boys.

They face various charges, including sexual assault and trafficking a person under the age of 18.

Police say they also have warrants for the arrest of two other suspects.



August 10, 2021

Exploited: How human trafficking is taking root in Saskatchewan

Between 2009 and 2019, Saskatchewan had 36 incidents of human trafficking reported to police. Seventeen of those were in Saskatoon, including nine reported in 2019 alone.

Divorce Act update will help protect children, mothers from violence and coercive control

July 29, 2021

When the government amended the Divorce Act of Canada earlier this year, it included the Best Interests of the Child (BIC). These long-awaited updates require domestic violence to be presumed when determining the best interests of the child and parenting plans, one step towards keeping women and children safe.

Family violence is defined in the Divorce Act as any conduct that is violent, threatening or a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour, or that causes a family member to fear for their safety.

Prior to the amendments, the BIC standard was guided by provincial not federal legislation, whereby only four provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Nova Scotia) named domestic violence as a factor in the BIC. What this means is that when parents separate or divorce, decisions that are made about children must now take into account whether family violence is a component of the family dynamics regardless of where one lives in Canada.

Professionals working with and making decisions or recommendations to families about co-parenting need to better understand coercive control as an important component of domestic violence.

Recognizing Human Trafficking Victims

July 27, 2021

Human trafficking, mainly for sexual exploitation, continues to be an issue in Canada.

Knowing how to recognize acts, victims and perpetrators of human trafficking can help everyone prevent and report this issue.

Beyond 911 Peel Regional Police Podcast - The New Intimate Partner Violence Unit

July 24, 2021

Why doesn't she just leave? PRP's new Intimate Partner Violence Unit is a ground-breaking response model to better assist survivors. Inspector Lisa Hewison explains how it works and life-saving safety tips.

To access helpful resources, visit or call (905) 450-4650. If the matter is an emergency, call 9-1-1.

Quebec women's shelters and support networks call for collective effort to prevent conjugal violence

July 24, 2021

"We can't stay silent, we have to act," says co-ordinator of Quebec shelter network

On Monday, Montreal police found the body of a 32-year-old woman in an apartment in Parc Extension. It was the city's 13th homicide and could be the 14th death linked to intimate partner violence in Quebec this year.

Police say the woman's 30-year-old partner is a suspect and they're still trying to locate him. Court records show the man was charged with uttering threats to his partner in May.

The people who work with women fleeing violence say a free helpline and more government funding for services are good first steps.

But they say society as a whole needs to play an active role to help women who are trapped in dangerous relationships, especially when they come from communities where language can be a barrier.

Maud Pontel is co-ordinator of a provincewide network that offers housing to women transitioning from emergency shelters to independence. She says people need to speak up when they see potential signs of intimate partner violence.

"We can't stay silent, we have to act and sadly, we have to act fast," Pontel said.

Helpline not just for victims

Pontel says SOS violence conjugale, Quebec's helpline for domestic violence, isn't just for people experiencing abuse.

"Victims, neighbours, relatives can call either for services for a victim, for advice...or if they know someone who could be an abuser as well," she said, "because this line will refer people to services specifically according to their needs."

She says any sort of breakup, especially when there's a history of abuse, is the biggest red flag.

"In a situation of conjugal violence, the moment that a woman is most at risk of being murdered is right after separation," she said.

When a case of domestic violence ends up in court, Pontel says, proper risk assessments should be carried out as well as regular follow-ups with both parties involved.

"And I think that wasn't the case in this situation," she said of the couple who lived in Parc Extension, a neighbourhood known to many as Park Ex.

Afraid to come forward

Ghazala Munawar, the co-ordinator of the South Asian Women's Community Centre in Montreal, says the victim was from India and was likely Punjabi.

She says the South Asian women she works with are often afraid to come forward because they're afraid of being publicly humiliated and are taught to keep things within the family.

"We are from South Asia so culturally, these countries, it's a patriarchal society," said Munawar. "There are things that we are raised with. The patriarchy has told us not to go against the visions of the man of the house."

"It's very sad because we think that if this woman had [received] outreach somewhere she could have been saved," she said.

Munawar says there needs to be more funding from the government to translate outreach materials from women's shelters and support networks into languages other than French and English.

Right now some of that work is being done locally, but she says the funding her centre receives is "peanuts" compared to the demand for its services.

Community approach

Melpa Kametoros, executive director of Shield of Athena Family Services in Park Ex, says there needs to be increased co-operation between police and community workers.

For example, her organization is part of a rapid response group in Laval. When there's a particularly dangerous case of conjugal violence, police, health professionals and city workers sit down to discuss how to make sure the victim is safe and to decide which resources they should be referred to.

Kametoros says this approach should be adopted in Montreal and throughout the province.

"If there's a police intervention, then the police have to know where to refer," said Kamateros, "and if they don't refer to the proper places, then what happens after?"

"There has to be a constant monitoring of the victim as much as the abuser, in order to be able to properly address the situation," she said.

Second stage shelters, another layer of protection

Pontel says the resources available to women at risk should be seen as "a continuum of services," one that extends beyond emergency shelters where victims can stay for two to three months.

"When it comes to second stage shelters, we know some women, they need more services, they need more time, because of the [dangerousness] of their abuser," she said.

"We provide services up to a year, that means the woman will have the time to rebuild her life, to gain her power back and to make sure that [she] and her kid will be safe."

Pontel says the second-stage shelter network offers help with court procedures as well as psychological support and counselling to help people better understand their situation.

"For some women, it will take up to seven trips to a shelter to finally decide to leave her abusive partner," she said.

The victimization of children in Canada and the United States are on the Rise. 

July 22, 2021

There is an uptick in the victimization of children in Canada and the United States. Children being victims of extortion, being asked for additional images or to meet up.

We believe the increase stems from the impacts of the pandemic.

The amount of time that kids have spent online this year and a half, constantly being in front of the screen and being in environments where they can be easily contacted. It's all through social media apps, video games, and phone applications.

Please be vigilant in monitoring your children's activities, and apply parental control apps.

here are a few:

Ontario government asks school boards to develop anti-trafficking strategies by 2022

July 6, 2021 

Ontario is making it mandatory for all school boards to develop a strategy to combat human trafficking by the beginning of next year.

The province said Tuesday that it will spend $2.4 million to support necessary training and resources for the move, which will help schools identify, respond to and prevent the trafficking of children.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce said schools will increasingly play an important role in fighting the problem.

“We need to do a better job of protecting our most vulnerable because the sad reality is the trafficking impacts our children and students the most,” he said. “No child deserves to feel unsafe in their schools or in their communities.”

The province released a new policy framework on Tuesday that it said would help boards build and implement their anti-trafficking strategies.

The strategies will need to support at-risk students or those being trafficked, train educators to identify or spot early warning signs of trafficking in youth and help raise awareness about sex trafficking in the province, the government said.

It added that school boards will work with police and community groups to develop their strategies, which the government wants in place by January 2022.

Casandra Diamond, the founder of the anti-human trafficking organization Bridgenorth, said the school strategies will be valuable because they will train educators to spot warning signs and better safeguard students.

“This day is monumental ? in the sense that we are turning the tide from enforcement,” said Diamond, who was a former victim of sex trafficking.

“I went to our schools, I shopped in our malls, and I ate in our restaurants, but nobody could see what was happening. I couldn’t reach out. Someone would have had to reach in.”

The province noted that in 2019, Ontario had the highest number of police-reported incidents of human trafficking in the country and that 21 percent of human trafficking victims identified by police were under the age of 18.​fbclid=IwAR1tmeyQHlOeCOXuyf30MLXgL_FRg2ViGaBI0EGEO_0T2ZTvSrdf6Gbuqvc

We are extremely worried’: Rise in femicides has advocates, shelters requesting more resources

MAR 24, 2021

MONTREAL (CityNews) – Advocates, shelters and politicians in Quebec are calling for an end to violence against women after seven femicides have been reported in the province in the past seven weeks.

The province has seen a 12 percent rise in violence against women during the pandemic.

“Each femicide is one too many,” said Linda Basque, a counsellor at women’s centre Info-Femmes. “It’s something I’ve never seen, not to this scale. It’s also what we’ve been saying we were afraid would happen at the beginning of the pandemic.

“Last year there were 12 femicides. Now we’re only in the third month (of the year). Yes, we are extremely worried.”

The latest victim was 29-year-old Montrealer Rebekah Harry, who died Tuesday after being allegedly attacked over the weekend by her 32-year-old boyfriend.

The man was charged with aggravated assault and breaking conditions but has yet to be charged with homicide — pending an autopsy. He was previously found guilty of uttering threats in 2013 in a domestic violence case.

“I don’t think that as the pandemic lessens its hold on us that it’s going to get better,” said Basque. “Once the women have more freedom, the violence may increase because then the abusers will lose control.

“It might get worse before it gets better unfortunately.”

Quebec deputy premier Genevieve Guilbault held a news conference Wednesday to denounce violence against women

“We cannot accept as a government, as women, as a society the situation where we have seven women who died in the last seven weeks because of situations of domestic violence,” said Guilbault.

But the province’s deputy premier did not announce any new measures to specifically address the problem.

“We’re hearing a lot of empty promises,” said Basque. “We need concrete action. More funds for the resources, create safety nets for the women who are victims.”

Basque and other representatives of shelters for women who are victims of domestic violence in Quebec say they lack resources at a time when need is on the rise.

“We have a waiting list and the waiting list is actually growing,” said Robert Cazelais, the general manager of Pro-Gam, a spousal intervention centre. “It’s not reducing. The issue is that when somebody calls you, sent by the court, it’s time for him to get therapy, we still have to put them on a waiting list.”

Quebec Solidaire is calling on the government to appoint a person responsible for addressing the issue of violence against women.

And on the eve of Quebec tabling its new budget, Francois Legault’s CAQ government is emphasizing its $180 million pledge for prevention and repression of domestic violence made just a few months ago.

“If we need more money, we will put more money,” said Guilbault. “This is a work in progress. We have to repeat the message that yes this is a responsibility of the government.”

Several ads are running in Quebec urging men — the main perpetrators of conjugal violence — not to do to their partners what they themselves would not accept. The ads were produced by the Legault government and run until the end of March.

“A blight on Canada”: MP Arnold Viersen on human trafficking and Pornhub's Montreal HQ

December 10, 2020

Conservative MP for the Alberta riding of Peace River—Westlock, Arnold Viersen, is one of four co-chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group to End Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking.

FULL REPORT from Sheila Gunn Reid: