Domestic Trafficking of Aboriginal Women & Girls Video Transcript

Excerpt from Enslaved and Exploited: The Story of Sex Trafficking in Canada, Hope for the Sold.

Anupriya Sethi (Published article 'Domestic trafficking of Aboriginal girls in Canada', Researcher): It’s kind of shocking because you see Canada as a developed country where you assume at least child abuse and exploitation is the last thing that would exist. And I didn’t just want to sit in a cubical and do some research and say, “This is what it is.” I really wanted to go out and talk to the people and ask them their stories.

Caption: Aboriginal girls are vulnerable to poverty, racism, substance abuse, violence, isolation, a need to feel a sense of belonging, a history of colonization

Ben Perrin: And when I was in Winnipeg, a radio announcer did a talk show about this. He said to me, “These are just hookers, right?" These are just hookers....

Caption: 75% of Aboriginal girls under 18 have experienced sexual abuse. Children as young as nine are sexually exploited in Saskatoon. The average of being forced into prostitution is 11 or 12.

Anupriya Sethi: There are these triangles in which girls are being moved: Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary and then back to Saskatoon. Or, if you’re in Edmonton, it will take you to Vancouver. You’re probably sleeping in a truck in Edmonton and you find yourself waking up in Vancouver. Why that happens, it's underlying that traffickers want to make sure that girls don’t form attachments and bonds in the city where they are. They don’t get to know people as much. But underlying is to make that there is power and control.

Caption: 500 Aboriginal girls have gone missing in the last two decades. Some have been found dead on the side of the highway, and some are believed to have been trafficked.

Grand Chief Ron Evans (Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs): I got to hear firsthand how the people are involved. And so it really moved me. I sat there. I was in tears listening to the stories. And I could not leave there as a leader occupying this role of Grand Chief. With this information, how can I leave there and not do anything about it?

Ben Perrin: You know Grand Chief Ron Evans and other people in Manitoba are trying to raise attention to this issue. It was only through days and days of national and local media attention that the Government of Manitoba finally in the summer for 2009 announced a task force to investigate missing and murdered Aboriginal girls.

Caption: In Vancouver, 60% of sexually exploited youth are Aboriginal.

Sue Todd (runs “The Great Room”): One of the things that we know particularly being here in the Downtown Eastside is the prevalence of domestic trafficking, and particularly of First Nations women. Over half of the women that are living in the Downtown Eastside are First Nations, and when you start to understand their stories, you realize that many of them, from a very early age, have been victim to some dynamic of trafficking and exploitation.

Caption: Aboriginal girls are lured at airports, bars, schools, and the internet. Some disappear after hitch hiking from reserves. Traffickers often pose as boyfriends.

Anupriya Sethi: It’s very hard when your trafficker is your boyfriend or that you’re desperately holding on, the last thing you're holding onto is some sense of belonging the person gives you, no matter how much abuse or exploitation that comes with it.

Caption: Sue tells the story of a girl born on a reserve in northern B.C.

Sue Todd: There were a lot of issues in her family: issues of addiction, mental health issues, family breakdown. By the time she was six years old, she was already drinking.

Caption: An older brother of a friend took her under his wing, providing for her needs and building a relationship with her.

Sue Todd: When she was about 11 years old, she talks about the day that he came to her and said, “I’ve spent a lot of time with you, I’ve bought you a lot of things, I’ve spent a lot of money on you. You need to pay me back.”

Caption: He began taking her to parties and selling her for sex to his friends.

Sue Todd: And she remembers at the age of 11, going to the first party where she was gang raped by five or six of his friends. And that began a number of years of her being in debt to him.

Caption: By the time she was 12 years old she was addicted to hard drugs and found herself on the streets of Vancouver being sexually exploited. With the help of the Great Room, she is now on a journey towards healing.