MMIW advocate Jamie Gladue says human trafficking in Edmonton concerns us all

·4 min read

(ANNews) – Jamie Gladue, a former pipefitter and former sex worker, a survivor, and now outspoken advocate for the missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW) in Edmonton, opens up about her battle with substance abuse and Edmonton’s human trafficking ring(s).

She says, “Wake up, Edmonton, there is a huge sex trafficking ring [here]. Multiple rings are operating in Edmonton, and Edmonton is not what it seems; there are many people involved and people you wouldn’t even think of.”

In February, Gladue, along with other Indigenous women and allies, held information rallies in Edmonton on 118 Ave and 97 Street. They were supported by prominent advocate April Eve Wiberg, a founding member of the Stolen Sisters and Brothers Awareness Movement.

Gladue says, “I was a pipefitter before I got into the sex industry; I lost my job in 2018, I abandoned my child, and I got a DUI.”

Gladue’s life spiraled out of control, and she became addicted to crystal meth.

“I would black out when I was drunk,” she said. “I went to jail a lot for hitting cops.”

She explained, “That summer, I met a guy at Show Girls in Fort McMurray, and he paid me $1000 for one hour, and that’s how I got into the business.”

According to Gladue, she was soon working as an independent sex worker in hotels; she got into crystal meth and became “a major alcoholic.”

“It was during this time I met six girls who went missing,” she said. “The last girl told me her story and that she thought I could do something about what was happening.”

“I have had situations where boyfriends tried to traffic me,” continued Gladue. “I have been in bad places and bad times, but I was never taken…I felt and believed the ancestors or god was watching over me.”

“In 2020, I got into needles of meth. I was losing hope and faith; I was losing hope in myself,” said Gladue. “But I was saved, I went to detox, and I got blessed with a construction job. Now, I no longer live that life, but I have a lot of trauma that I have not dealt with.”

“I keep running into the same ladies,” she added. “I can’t turn a blind eye to what is happening.”

She alleges that Edmonton has a massive sex trafficking ring, and she believes there are many human trafficking rings operating in the city and throughout Alberta.

“Sex trafficking rings are extensive, and they are right in front of our eyes, and people don’t see it, but I do,” she said. “I want to raise awareness because of the girls that went missing. I can’t help them, but I can educate other people from being taken.”

Gladue offers this advice: “Families need to check their messages, their social media pages, and be aware of their online activity because these people groom people – these people are sick, they target vulnerable women, and vulnerable families.”

“First thing sex traffickers say to women is that you are beautiful, and they shower them with gifts, they lure girls in, and the girls that are insecure and have no love for themselves, are being naïve that they are being targeted.”

She alleges, “There are sex cults in Edmonton and Thunder Bay. I have had cars following me and parking outside my apartment.”

Her advice to the public is, “Take pictures of the cars and license plates, and ALWAYS HAVE YOUR PHONE ON YOU.”

Gladue wants people to “acknowledge the hard truth of what’s going on not in just our beautiful city but our world. I want people to become knowledgeable and educate themselves on the signs and red flags of sex and human trafficking. You could be involved and not even know it, just like you could be a victim and not even know It. I want people to educate themselves on whom they target.”

“Simple words such as “you’re beautiful” start a conversation; they test your insecurities by starting a conversation like that to see how you react…I want people to wake up about what’s going on with not just our women but our people, and all look out for one another, love each other, help each other, most importantly, accept one another,” said Gladue.

“I can raise awareness and protest; I also understand I am tampering with a trillion-dollar business, so obviously, I put risk on myself for gangs talking, etc.,” she said. “But I have dealt with a lot worse, and I’m sober now, so I am even safer, thank you, creator, for keeping me safe. Also, by spreading awareness, people continue to tell me stories, and I continue to connect the dots.”

Gladue’s allegation of multiple sex trafficking rings in Edmonton is a serious concern that needs to be addressed by authorities. Her experience highlights the vulnerability of individuals struggling with addiction and needing financial support. She strongly feels that society must provide more resources for people in such situations to help them get back on their feet, so they don’t desperately resort back to illegal activities.

Chevi Rabbit, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Alberta Native News