Halifax mother speaks of 'terrifying year' trying to protect daughter from human trafficking

·4 min read
A woman sits on a bed facing a window in this stock photo. A Halifax mother is speaking out, saying she believes her teenage daughter was being groomed for human trafficking this year. (Yupa Watchanakit/Shutterstock - image credit)
A woman sits on a bed facing a window in this stock photo. A Halifax mother is speaking out, saying she believes her teenage daughter was being groomed for human trafficking this year. (Yupa Watchanakit/Shutterstock - image credit)

A Halifax mother is speaking out about her efforts to protect her teenage daughter from human trafficking during what she calls a "terrifying year."

CBC News is not identifying the woman, to protect both her and her daughter. She said she's frustrated that when she reached out to a human trafficking hotline in the province early last month, she never got a response.

Her call for help followed a series of events with her daughter, who struggles with mental health and addiction issues. She said her daughter spent last summer trying to get clean, but when September rolled around, the teen was in contact with a man who was supplying her with drugs.

"Nobody gives you drugs for free for no reason," the woman said in an interview. "Of course, he's slick and he's debonair, and she believes he is her friend who gives her drugs because he likes to hang out with her."

Man went to girl's school

The mother said the man went so far as to sneak into her daughter's school and sit in her classroom. School authorities subsequently got a protection order to keep him off school grounds, said the woman.

The woman said the episode scared her daughter and she broke off contact with the man for more than a month. But he was soon back in her life.

The mother managed to get her hands on her daughter's cellphone and found messages from the man offering her daughter drugs and a place to stay. She became alarmed by what she was reading.

"They go to parties at his house, drugs were supplied for free," she said. "I wasn't giving her a lot of allowance money because of her drug addiction issues and, unfortunately, that also drives them to people like this who give them money for free."

Offer from stranger to pay for hotel

The girl was expelled after an incident at her school, and when her mother tried to discipline her, she ran away. The mother said while she was on the run, her daughter reached out to the man. He promised to put her in touch with someone who could help.

Moments later, the mother said, her daughter got a text from a second man in the Annapolis Valley, offering to put her up in a hotel. The woman said fortunately, her daughter had no way to get to the valley and he had no way to come get her.

"I have been through a terrifying year with my daughter, so you get a little numb when you see messages like that," the woman said.

"I didn't sleep, obviously, but you realize how close a call it came."

The woman said her daughter was found in the parking garage of an apartment building and taken home by Halifax Regional Police.

When she was able to look at the messages on her daughter's phone, the woman saw the man had written about recently returning from New Brunswick. She said the text reminded her of a human trafficking story she had read about a New Brunswick girl who was allegedly kidnapped and taken to Bridgewater, N.S.

The woman said she called a number listed on the Halifax Regional Municipality's website for reporting human trafficking and left a message and her contact information.

Police have no records of calls

When contacted by CBC News, RCMP said there were no records in call logs or voice messages of a call matching the one placed by the woman. There is no explanation for what happened.

The municipality's website lists several numbers, including provincial and national hotlines, where human trafficking can be reported. If safety is an immediate concern, police say the call should go to 911.

Nova Scotia has committed an extra $1.4 million a year over the next three years to fight human trafficking. That includes money to add human traffic navigators to Victims Services and to train Crown prosecutors in how to handle such cases.

Police advise there are signs someone may be a victim of human trafficking, which can include a person constantly checking in with someone via phone or text, or a person suddenly receiving expensive gifts for no reason.

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