The day-long conference at Toronto’s University of St. Michael’s College will feature Conservative MP Joy Smith, there to promote her National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking.

Loretto Sisters to host trafficking conference

By 
  • January 24, 2012

TORONTO - For 400 years Loretto Sisters have been working to raise the dignity of women. It started with girls’ schools in 17th-century England, but now the Sisters want to take on criminals who sell girls into sexual slavery.

“We have to read the signs of the times, so we have to say ‘What would (Loretto founder Mary Ward) think was needed now if she were here today?’ ” said Sr. Maria Lanthier, co-ordinator of a March 24 conference on human trafficking. “This is one of the biggest issues that keeps women down — trafficking. It’s the second biggest criminal industry in the world.”

The day-long conference at Toronto’s University of St. Michael’s College will feature Conservative MP Joy Smith, there to promote her National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking. Her private member’s bill, C-310, received unanimous support at second reading in the House of Commons Dec. 12.

The RCMP’s human trafficking awareness co-ordinator, retired superintendent Marty Van Doren, will review the role of law enforcement. Diane Redsky of the Canadian Women’s Foundation and Grand Council Treaty #3 will speak about native women and girls trafficked between Manitoba and Ontario. Executive director of International Justice Mission Canada Jamie McIntosh will bring his experience assembling teams of investigators and lawyers to break up international human trafficking rings, rescuing child prostitutes.

For the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary Sisters (as the Lorettos are also known), the battle against human trafficking is a natural extension of their traditional education work.

“We’ve been educators since we arrived in Canada. Awareness is a huge part of education,” said Lanthier. “We’ll never get ahead of this issue unless we change attitudes. The money is coming out of the pockets of men.”

About half the delegates signed up for the conference so far are men.

The conference will be practical and focussed on strategy, said Lanthier. The strategy begins with making people aware of women and girls trapped in apartments and hotels in unremarkable neighbourhoods across Canada.

“One of the reasons why this is such a successful industry in Canada is lack of awareness,” Lanthier said.

To sign up call Lanthier at (416) 763-6203 or e-mail her at mariaibvm@rogers.com.

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