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News Release – Manitoba
March 5, 2012
Awareness Week Proclaimed in Manitoba
Manitoba continues to work towards eliminating child sexual exploitation with new legislation, public awareness and community involvement, Family Services and Labour Minister Jennifer Howard announced today.
“Our children are precious and everyone has a role to play in ensuring they are protected,” said Howard. “Through strong legislation and by working with community organizations, Manitoba is confronting those who are sexually exploiting our children and we will continue to be a leader in ensuring we work together to keep our children safe.”March 5 to 11 has been declared Stop Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Week in Manitoba and a number of events and conferences have been organized by community groups and partner agencies. A billboard with an anti-exploitation message will be unveiled along PTH 59 north of Winnipeg.
With an annual budget of $10 million, Manitoba continues to lead the nation in support and programming under the Tracia’s Trust: Manitoba’s Sexual Exploitation Strategy, said Howard. Children will also have more protection under the new Child Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking Act which is expected to be proclaimed this spring. This new law will offer a number of Canadian firsts including more accountability for perpetrators by allowing victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation to obtain protection orders against those who exploit them, the minister added.
The new legislation builds on existing Tracia’s Trust initiatives including the designation of two Crown attorneys to co-ordinate and prosecute human-trafficking cases and regional teams established and maintained in 12 Manitoba cities and towns to raise awareness and counter local sexual exploitation. A number of awareness initiatives are occurring this week in each of these regions including a community forum in Winnipeg involving hundreds of stakeholders.
Other provincial efforts include the continued support of StreetReach Winnipeg, which has seen Winnipeg outreach workers visit more than 1,300 addresses looking for missing children and youth, and helped return 157 children to their homes in 2011. As a result of the StreetReach initiative, and in co-operation with law enforcement, charges were laid against six individuals for offences against children and youth. Similar efforts are ongoing in Thompson with the StreetReach North program.
Youth are also receiving support through a six-bed rural healing lodge run by Mamawi – Hands of Mother Earth (HOME) that opened in October 2011. The lodge is a licensed residential child-care facility that specializes in providing care for sexually exploited female youth in care between the ages of 14 and 17 and has already served seven young women.
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