The last of four regional consultations across the Anglican Church of Canada on how to end human trafficking and modern slavery took place on April 2-5 at the Bethlehem Centre in Nanaimo, B.C.
The gathering, which brought together approximately 20 representatives from the Province of B.C. and Yukon, highlighted some common themes that emerged from previous consultations in each ecclesiastical province.
Among these were the greater risk of trafficking faced by Indigenous women and girls. Participants from Prince Rupert spoke about the Highway of Tears, known for the many Indigenous women who have been murdered or disappeared there.
The experience of migrant workers was another focus, with speakers including Connie Sorio, migrant justice coordinator for KAIROS Canada. Participants also watched a documentary about Central American migrants travelling through Mexico.
New topics included the connection of gang activity to human trafficking—specifically the coercive recruitment of children and youth for forced labour and criminal activity—and high Canadian participation in the sexual exploitation of children online.
With the consultations now finished, a resolution is headed to General Synod that will commit the church to continue speaking out against human trafficking, working with governments and other organizations, and developing resources.
Dr. Ryan Weston, General Synod lead staff for the consultations along with Dr. Andrea Mann, said the four consultations have resulted in a Canada-wide network of Anglicans well-informed to help lead the fight against human trafficking.
“I think that’s really powerful that we’ve equipped so many folks in so many communities with some knowledge and leadership on this,” Weston said.
Mann said the consultations had helped raise awareness of trafficking in Canada and were a valuable contribution to efforts across the Anglican Communion to confront slavery. She described the events as “a helpful structure for learning, and the first steps of action.”