Whether people realize it or not, human trafficking is an issue in Nova Scotia.
“Human trafficking is not just a big city problem,” says Cst. Kelly Moore-Reid of the New Glasgow Regional Police Service and founding board member of the Pictou County Chapter Silent Witness Nova Scotia. “Small towns are being targeted and our community is of no exception. We need to increase public awareness regarding indicators of human trafficking in order to keep our community safe.”
To help raise awareness of the issue, Pictou County Chapter SWNS is hosting a two-day conference on human trafficking May 15 and 16 at the deCoste Centre in Pictou. This conference is made possible, largely due to donations received from the Pictou County 100 Women Who Care.
On May 15 the conference will begin with a free public event featuring author, poet and human trafficking survivor; Jade Brooks. Donna MacGregor, who is helping to organize the event, said she had an opportunity to hear Brooks speak several years ago and said her story helped her see how much of a problem it is.
“There are cases all over the province. People may just not be aware of them,” MacGregor said. “There are students that are being groomed. We want to do everything we can to build some awareness around it and that it happens here in our own backyard.”
In fact, many investigations in larger cities such as Toronto end up leading back to Nova Scotia where the girls were lured, she said. Many are recruited by people they consider peers.
Brooks, for example, was raised in Halifax and was recruited into the sex trade as a young girl – lured into “The Game” by a pimp she thought loved her. At the event she will talk about her experiences followed by a book signing.
Brooks will speak again on May 16. With speaker Jennifer Holleman and a Nova Scotia Special Prosecutor, Day 2 will expand on the story of human trafficking, showing its effects on the victim, their families and the community as a whole.
Holleman, will share her daughter’s story of being lured into the sex trade where she was trapped in fear of her life and her family’s safety. Holleman has been a strong advocate in the area of human trafficking and has spoken to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
The Nova Scotia Special Prosecutor will speak about the justice system and its involvement in the fight against the business of human sex trafficking.
MacGregor said they’re happy to have strong youth participation in the conference, including students from Pictou County as well as neighbouring schools such as Bible Hill. Youth were provided subsidized seating for the conference.
For more information contact the chapter’s Facebook page ww.facebook.com/silentwitnessPC/ or the Pictou County Women’s Resource & Sexual Assault Centre 902-755-4647.
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