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Foundation new to Lloydminster hopes to bring awareness to human trafficking

The Joy Smith Foundation is opening up their presentations to the Lloydminster community.

The foundations goal is to bring awareness to human trafficking and prevent it. Schools, community centres, churches and businesses can contact their office to arrange a presentation. Joy Smith, Founder and President, says the presentations can be for parents, teachers, students and police.    

“It’s horrid what happens to these young people, so we want to prevent it from happening and education is our greatest weapon against that.” 

Smith helped pass Bill C-268, which created a mandatory minimum sentencing for traffickers and Bill C-310, which allows Canada to bring traffickers that are Canadian Citizens back to Canada who have gone abroad for trafficking, and bring them to justice.   

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“When I left Parliament, I had worked with many survivors and they had said to me, our voice is going to go away. I promised them that I would start a foundation to ensure that voice did not go away.” 

When the Joy Smith Foundation is contacted to do a presentation, they research the community so they understand who they are talking to. Presenters have been trained and have a strong understanding of human trafficking. Smith explains what signs students, parents and teachers should look for.

“In a classroom, for instance, when there’s a sudden interest in a boy or man (that’s) several years older, or when a kid can’t afford it, comes in with new clothing or jewelry.”

A red flag to watch for is if a child has two cell phones. Some other indicators are dropping grades, a new friend group while cutting off connection to their old friends, and unexplained cuts and bruises. 

A trafficker is sometimes two or more years older than the person they’re trying lure. Smith says in some cases, an adult stranger will approach a youth in a public area, like a mall, and ask for directions. In this case, she advises the youth to say no, and walk away. 

“What the trafficker wants to do is get power and control over their victims. They use emotional abuse, intimidation and sexual abuse to do that, but prior to that, they become their boyfriend.”

Smith says more people are sharing their stories of how they were lured into human trafficking. Students learn how predators work through the presentation and brochures that are handed out. They also taught how to be safe online.  

“Parents and kids should have a three letter secret code, and that’s very important. If that code comes up in a text, you know that kid is in trouble.”

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If you believe you, or someone you know, has been contacted by a trafficker,  Smith says to call the local police right away. Traffickers earn an average of $280,000 per victim per year.

The hope is teaching students about human trafficking and being aware of the threat will prevent it from happening in the future. To arrange for a presentation to be done by the Joy Smith Foundation at a business, school, community centre or at a church call 204-691-2455.

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