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‘Modern day slavery’: Why human trafficking often flies under the radar in Canada – National

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Forty-three victims of human trafficking were freed this month by police in Ontario.

The victims, mostly men from Mexico aged between 20 and 46, were rescued by officials following a lengthy investigation by Barrie Police and the Ontario Provincial Police.

The workers were allegedly made to live in squalid conditions in Barrie and Wasaga Beach, and were forced to work for a cleaning company.

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READ MORE: 43 victims of labour human trafficking freed following investigation in Barrie, Wasaga Beach

OPP deputy commissioner Rick Barnum spoke about the case at a press conference Monday, describing the situation as modern day slavery.

“The commodity being bought and sold is people. Human trafficking is modern day slavery,” Barnum said.

“Human trafficking involves the recruitment, transportation and harbouring of persons for the purposes of exploitation, typically in the sex industry, or in this case forced labour. Exploitation is the key element of this offence.”

WATCH: Dozens of Mexican workers freed after labour human trafficking






Barnum explained human-trafficking victims are often from extremely vulnerable populations, including migrant workers and new immigrants.

While human trafficking happens in nearly every country of the world, it often goes unreported.

Labour exploitation in Canada

Yvon Dandurand, a criminologist and professor at the University of the Fraser Valley in B.C., explained human trafficking often doesn’t get enough attention in Canada, and especially not the issue of labour exploitation.

Those being exploited over labour are usually forced to perform tasks outside of their mandate and are underpaid. Many of them work on farms or mines in areas were there is not a lot of police presence, Dandurand explained.

READ MORE: Man and woman arrested in human-trafficking probe across southern Ontario

“The victimization goes on for sometimes years” before it is caught, Dandurand noted.

“Human trafficking in general does not come to the attention of police, because people don’t report it.

“This is the kind of crime that only comes to the surface when the police looks for it proactively,” he said, pointing to the Barrie investigation as an example.

WATCH: ‘I went to bed a slave, woke up a free man,’ Barrie human trafficking victim says






Dandurand added that the majority of reported human trafficking cases in Canada are from Ontario.

“Does that tell us that human trafficking doesn’t happen elsewhere? It tells us that in Ontario, law enforcement has devoted more attention and more resources to the investigation of those cases,” he said.

Human trafficking reports ‘steadily’ increasing

According to Statistics Canada, there were 340 police-reported cases of human trafficking in Canada in 2016, where it was also the most serious violation.

StatCan explained the number has been steadily rising since the agency began collecting data.

READ MORE: Woman tells N.S. court she wanted to die after being lured into prostitution

“Between 2009 and 2016, there were a total of 1,220 police-reported incidents of human trafficking where it was the
most serious violation,” the report, titled, “Trafficking in persons in Canada,” explained.

“The number and rate of human trafficking incidents have steadily increased since 2010.”

In Canada, most cases of human trafficking involve other offences, such as assault or sexual exploitation.

The vast majority of victims in Canada between 2009 and 2016, at 95 per cent, were women. And among women, 70 per cent were younger than 25 years of age.

Nearly three in 10 victims experienced some sort of physical injury. Many also suffer from emotional and psychological trauma, the StatCan report noted.

WATCH: Human trafficking victim hopes her story will save others






Hidden operations

The operations are often so hidden that even the companies who employ these workers claim they didn’t have knowledge of the exploitation.

That seemed to be the case in Barrie, where the company that employed the Mexican workers said it wasn’t aware of their plight.

In a news release Tuesday, Living Water Resorts explained it hired the workers through a housekeeping company and paid them $21 per hour. It said they were “unaware of any alleged abuse.”

“In light of the allegations that have come forward and police reports of the living conditions and treatment of these contract workers, the Resort has cut ties with the third party contractor immediately,” the release read.

WATCH: Durham Region human trafficking awareness program launches






Difficult to prove in court

Beyond that, Dandurand explained human trafficking cases that make into court rarely result in convictions.

According to the Integrated Criminal Court Survey, between 2008 and 2016 there were 84 completed adult criminal court cases in Canada where human trafficking was the most serious offence.

READ MORE: Canada deports 20 members of Hamilton-area human trafficking ring

Sixty per cent of those cases were stayed or withdrawn. One-third resulted in a guilty finding, and the accused was acquitted in five cases.

“It’s a very difficult crime to prove. Sometimes you get the cooperation of victims, but not always,” Dandurand said.

“Victims of human trafficking are not always the most persuasive witnesses. They are traumatized and fear reprisal.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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A stunning Water Lantern Festival is coming to Montreal

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What might just be the most magical night ever is coming up for Montreal this year.

The Water Lantern Festival has announced that it will be gracing Mississauga with thousands of floating lanterns later this year, as part of a celebration that spans the entire world.

According to the festival’s official website, the event is a celebration of life with proceeds going towards charities and non-profit organizations within the area.

“Water Lantern Festival brings together individuals from all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life to join in one emotional and memorable night. At the Water Lantern Festival, we cherish these moments and will do our best to help you have a memorable experience that you’ll never forget as you witness the beauty of thousands of lanterns reflecting upon the water,” the website states.

The festival takes place throughout multiple cities around the world, with the Canadian cities of Quebec, Regina, Vancouver, Hamilton, Calgary, Ottawa, Mississauga, and, of course, Montreal taking part.

For the Calgary event, a date has been confirmed and tickets are already rolling out. Montreal shan’t be far behind, and you can click the Notify Me tab on the event’s site to be kept in the loop.

Expect an evening filled with food trucks, music, lantern designing and finally, a magical launch of the lanterns into the water as the sun goes down.

For our pals over in Calgary, their event includes a floating lantern, a commemorative drawstring bag, a marker, and a wristband. Expect something similar, if not the same, when more details float through about Montreal’s event.

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Euthanasia order on hold for Montreal dog that attacked children

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A pit bull dog that attacked four children and two adults in August 2018 in Montreal North will not be euthanized in the immediate future.

The euthanasia order has been temporarily suspended pending the appeal of a Quebec Superior Court decision.

On Tuesday, Judge Lukasz Granosik rejected a request to halt the euthanasia order issued by the Montreal North borough, which declared the animal a “dangerous dog.”

The City of Montreal has not changed its mind. This is only a delay before it proceeds with euthanizing the dog, a source told the Canadian Press.

Shotta, the one-year-old dog, was in the care of its owner’s acquaintance in August 2018. The dog attacked four children and two adults, causing serious injuries in separate incidents on the same day.

After the attacks, the dog was taken from the home and entrusted to the SPCA.

WATCH: Dog found dead in Angrignon Park

The Road to Home Rescue Support, an American shelter, asked the court if it could take in the dog. Christa Frineau, the dog’s owner, had also asked that Shotta not be euthanized.

Granosik refused to grant the request.

—With files from Global’s Kalina Laframboise

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Anglais

9 Things To Do In Montreal This Friday, Saturday & Sunday

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Today’s sunny skies have me itching to make weekend plans. I absolutely cannot wait to make the most of this warmer weather. This might be the time to inflate my bike tires and dust off my running shoes…

Whether you want to brush up on your cooking skills, let loose, or fill your stomach with amazing food, there’s an event out there for you. Read on for 9 fun things you can do with friends or a fling this weekend.

TL;DR Read on for 9 fun things you can do in Montreal this weekend.

Let Yourself Go At Dress Up

Where: 185 Avenue Van Horne, Montréal.

When: Friday, March 29, 9:00 p.m.

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