Hundreds of people join MP Joy Smith in honouring true Canadian heroes.

Hundreds of people join MP Joy Smith in honouring true Canadian heroes.

Hundreds of people come out to help Joy Smith, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, honour the heroes who have spent many years fighting against the horrific crime of human trafficking. Manitobans are not immune to this heinous crime as recently witnessed in this province’s first human trafficking arrest.

“I am delighted to present awards to the leaders who make a significant difference in the lives of so many innocent victims,” commented Mrs. Smith. “These leaders have worked tirelessly for the benefit of others and I am proud to recognize them for their accomplishments.”

The people of Winnipeg joined Member of Parliament Joy Smith in her fight to end modern day slavery and to honour true Canadian heroes for their tireless work in protecting those who cannot protect themselves. On October 16, 2010 Mrs. Smith hosted the First Annual Honouring Heroes Award Ceremony. The event took place at 7:30 pm at Eastview Community Church (3500 DeVries Ave.) in East St. Paul, Manitoba.

To honour these wonderful people, Mrs. Smith hosted a press conference earlier on October 16 at 11:00 am at Canad Inns Garden City. The press conference introduced the award recipients and their triumphant stories. Included were two survivors of human trafficking and a former RCMP officer who worked on the Willie Pickton file, Grand Chief Ron Evans and a reporter.

“Many people would be appalled to learn that slavery exists in a modern and developed country such as Canada,” comment Mrs. Smith. “It is time for the people of Winnipeg and Manitoba to create another historic moment in our nation’s history and join the fight against the sexual exploitation of women and children.”

Mrs. Smith honoured these dedicated leaders for their tireless work in fighting human trafficking. Each recipient has made a unique contribution to fighting this crime, their names are:

Grand Chief Ron Evans was honoured for his work in the Aboriginal community. The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) received $100,000 in federal funding to combat human trafficking. The AMC developed a First Nations specific anti-trafficking strategy, including an education and awareness campaign to combat human trafficking aimed at stopping the sexual exploitation of First Nations women and children.

Brian McConaghy was honoured for his work in the Ratanak Foundation. Brian is a former RCMP officer who worked on both the Baker and Pickton Files. As the founder of The Ratanak Foundation, Brian has helped care for exploited children in Cambodia. His connection and empathy for these victims is a special and rare characteristic that truly makes him a hero.

Natasha Falle was honoured for her support of trafficked women. As a former trafficking victim herself, Natasha has displayed impressive courage and determination to end human trafficking. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Sextrade 101, an activism organization that promotes public awareness and education to law enforcement internationally. She is also an instructor in the Police Foundation program in Ontario.

Timea Nagy was honoured for her work with trafficking victims who have been rescued by the police. As a Hungarian woman, she was lured to Canada with hollow promises of work; she was then coerced into the flesh trade by being held captive in strip clubs and massage parlours. After escaping her perpetrators, Timea went on to run an organization called “Walk With Me.” She works with law enforcement agencies and has recently written her autobiography.

Tamara Cherry is a reporter for the Toronto Sun who has written award winning articles on human trafficking. She began her work in this field in January 2008 with the first human trafficking arrests for Toronto Police. As a crime reporter at the Sun, she has followed the topic of human trafficking, with a focus on domestic sex trafficking in Canada, ever since.

MP Joy Smith presented the awards to the courageous leaders in the fight against human trafficking. Mrs. Smith continues to fight tirelessly in Ottawa and on the streets to prevent the spread of this vile crime. The passing of Mrs. Smith’s Private Member’s Bill, C-268, which aims at sentencing criminals to no less than five years in prison for the trafficking of a child under the age of 18, was an historic moment in Canadian history. It was the fifteenth Private Member’s Bill to amend the Criminal Code of Canada since Confederation.