Mother of missing girl highlights human trafficking

A Kamloops mother who believes her daughter was sucked into human trafficking four years ago will be travelling to Ottawa to share her story with Parliament.

Glendene Grant’s 21-year-old daughter Jessie Foster disappeared while living with her boyfriend in Las Vegas.

Since then, Grant has been shoved into the spotlight as a spokeswoman for human trafficking, a position she has increasingly embraced.

Recently, while at the first annual Glendene and Jessie Foster Award ceremony – during which an anti-human trafficking group handed out awards for those who have helped combat trafficking – Grant was approached by Conservative MP Joy Smith.

Smith introduced a private members’ bill last January to set a five year minimum sentence for anyone trafficking victims under the age of 18.

She wanted Grant to share her story at a committee meeting.

“I’m learning it’s not just about Jessie any more, even though that’s my number one goal,” Grant said. “I want her back so much, but she’s one in millions.”

While Jessie was an adult when she went missing, Grant said the bill is a first step in the right direction.

“You don’t get much higher than talking to (a committee) to help a bill pass in your country that will help other people,” she said. “If these criminals know what will happen to them is (bad), they might think twice about doing a crime.”

Jessie, who graduated from high school in Calgary and spent time in Edmonton, decided to go to Las Vegas with her boyfriend in 2005.

There she met another man who Grant says was abusive. Soon after she began working as an escort.

When she came home for Christmas that year, Grant said she was different.

And, suddenly, part way through the visit, she insisted she had to return to Vegas.

That March was the last time they were in touch.

Now, Grant is working to educate Kamloops students about what trafficking is and the reality for victims.

She hopes to soon take her lecture online so schools around the world can use it.

“I don’t want to scare everybody and say no one is safe in Canada,” she said. “Our kids are going to be safer if they’re aware.”

Grant is still waiting for confirmation from Smith, but expects to travel to Ottawa later this month.

source:  http://www.edmontonsun.com/news/edmonton/2010/05/02/13800046.html

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