Red Deer may soon be home to a safe haven for victims of human trafficking in Canada.
The doors could be open as early as September, should funding come through in the next federal budget or other avenues, says David Bouchard, president of the city’s Magdalene House Society.
“We’ve put our feelers out,” said Bouchard. “We haven’t got any clear direction in terms of whether funding is available with this. We are going through a number of avenues. There has been some hopeful noises coming back but nothing firm yet.”
Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings for slavery, sexual exploitation or forced labour.
Bouchard said Red Deer may not be considered a place where people are trafficked on an ongoing basis but more as a transit stop for people who are trafficking across the country. He said the people may stop in Red Deer for a couple of weeks before moving on to Vancouver or other parts of Canada.
“We don’t have any home except for Deborah’s Gate in Vancouver, right now, that houses people dealing with issues of human trafficking,” said Bouchard. “This would be the only one in Alberta. The need is there.”
The society is trying to raise $500,000 in its capital campaign. They have raised about $17,000 since the society was formed in 2010. The society has a building in mind for the aftercare facility.
Bouchard said they would have between 10 and 12 beds with places set up for men and women. The facility would service all of Alberta.
The society was formed in 2010 by a group of concerned citizens to bring an aftercare facility to Central Alberta.
Recently, the society hosted a Pasta Fiesta where Tara Teng, Miss Canada 2011, talked about her advocacy work in human trafficking.
For more information visit www.magdalenehouse.ca.