Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Hunting/Exploiting The Vulnerable

"The problem with that process is there is no process, unlike private adoption where you have to have home visits, criminal background checks.
"There are no checks for custom adoption. So if Inuit are trafficking Inuit children, then that is a very easy loophole."
"People need to start connecting the dots, they need to stop being so complacent, particularly where children are concerned. We better start waking up."
Helen Roos, principal consultant, Roos-Remillard Consulting Services

"They were not told exactly where the girls were going. They don't say 'human trafficking' ... they say 'for prostitution'" in reference to families paid "by an agent, a pimp, to use their girls who are probably aged anywhere between eleven and fourteen... There was one case where the girl was nine years old."
Suny Jacob, executive direct, Qimaavik women's shelter, Iqaluit

"We definitely need to learn more. We don't yet know how people are being trafficked so we can't really develop a victim or trafficker profile."
Katharine Irngaut, manager of abuse prevention, Pauktuutit, Inuit women's organization

Traditional Inuit clothing at Nunavut Day  Children wearing traditional Inuit clothing during Nunavut Day 2013 celebrations.
Ms. Roos has just issued a 146-page report on the startling, prevalent and growing incidences of Inuit babies and children sold by their families. The report, funded by the Department of Justice explored the issue of human trafficking of Inuit women and girls in Canada. Inuit in the north, the report states, are buying and selling their babies and children. Inuit children are being "prostituted out by a parent, family member or domestic partner", the report claims.

Inuit are being "lured" from the north and "groomed" by human traffickers, sometimes using dating websites. Inuit teens living in group homes become the exploitative victims of other Inuit youth and some in protective care living in Ottawa become victims of trafficking once they leave the group homes at the age of 18. The "distinct travel patterns" of teenage girls travelling to cities in the south from Nunavut has also surfaced as leads to the phenomenon.

Several Inuit families have divulged that they received between $15,000 to $20,000 from unnamed sources for each of their underage daughters, flown to Canadian cities, the bulk of the children ending up living in Winnipeg. The Inuit have a tradition of casual child adoption. If a mother is unable to adequately care for a child, another family member or a nearby resident will step in to 'adopt' the child, with no formal documentation involved.

This has long been recognized as a bonus, a humanitarian and charitable blessing for the community. A measure to ensure that no child would be abandoned. Yet, under guise of helpfulness in impoverished communities, a trend in Inuit and aboriginal youth being offered travel to southern cities where they then become embroiled in human trafficking and sex work is emerging as an alarming signal that something has gone horribly awry in Inuit communities.

Ms. Roos is well versed in the problems and concerns besetting First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities relating to project development and grant management. She is also chair of the Ottawa Coalition to End Human Trafficking. She describes traditional Inuit adoption, the "largest adoption mechanism used in Nunavut", as a "very easy link" to human trafficking.

"We're not collecting specific data with regards to child trafficking", says Peter Dudding, director of children and family services in Nunavut, and he is "not directly aware" of suspicious movement in the north involving youth. "So beyond the kind of perception of the anecdotal information in terms of it being a problem, we don't really know the extent or magnitude or scope of what the problem is."

"We know that the Inuit population is extremely vulnerable especially when they're relocated to the south. They could fall prey to some of these situations", commented Ben Bridgstock, director at Mamisarvik, an Ottawa-based Inuit addiction and treatment centre. "If the report leads to a more formalized investigation, hard facts and figures, that would be brilliant."

Child and youth statistics
   Nunavut  All of Canada
Sexual violations against children (under 18 years of age) 44.3 incidents per 100,000 people 4.3 incidents per 100,000 people
Child and youth victims of violence (under 18 years of age) 4,311 victims per 100,000 people 1,111 victims per 100,000 people
Youth crime rate (aged 12-17) 31,161 youth accused per 100,000 youth 6,885 youth accused per 100,000 youth
Public high school graduation rate 39.9 per cent 74.8 per cent
Source: Office of the Auditor General of Canada, Children, Youth and Family Programs and Services in Nunavut, citing various sources from between 2002 and 2008

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