The Anglican Church of Canada is taking another step forward in its fight against human trafficking and modern slavery with the formation of a new discernment group led by General Synod Global Relations and Public Witness teams and the creation of an online human trafficking hub with information and resources. The moves are part of the province’s response to Resolution 15.10 of the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Auckland, New Zealand, in 2012.
The resolution was officially endorsed by the Church of Canada’s Council of General Synod (Cogs) when it met in June this year.
The members of the new discernment group will hold their first meeting in September “to assess the current scope of Anglican work in this ministry, identify priorities in this work, and to plot out a detailed plan going forward,” the Church said in a statement.
“Crucial to this process will be identifying Anglicans involved in work against human trafficking,” the statement said as they called on those working to eradicate human trafficking to contact them.
“The data gathering process is a way of beginning to better understand the nature, the incidence, the existence of trafficking and slavery in Canada, how the church is responding to those realities within local communities, and how other people can become involved,” discernment group member Andrea Mann said.
“It’s data that identifies people, ministry, cities and towns, and rural and remote areas in the church where people are thinking about this and responding.”
Members of the discernment group have begun conversations with the Lutheran Church of Canada, which is also working in this area. The Lutheran Church’s sub-theme for its 500th anniversary of the Reformation is “Human Beings – Not For Sale”.
In March, Caitlin Beck, missioner for children, youth, and families in the Diocese of New Westminster, took a delegation of teenagers and young adults to the 61st session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women where human trafficking is often a recurring theme. Many panels and events discussed the need to protect the rights of sex workers and migrant workers and involve them in conversations related to human trafficking, and is now preparing a letter to the Primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, to set out some of the findings of the delegation.
“I’m actually excited to be able to share some of that as a part of the new discernment group that they’re putting together for this issue,” she said. “I think that’s a really great step that the national church has taken to ensure that we do this work in the right way – in a way that includes the voices of people who are caused the most harm by human trafficking, and that we learn from their experiences and don’t base our actions on assumptions when we don’t have the direct experience. I think that’s a good thing for us to be careful about.”
The chief executive of the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking, Barbara Gosse, is a parishioner at St Cuthbert’s Anglican Church in Toronto. She said that churches often have a reach that other activist groups or police may not have.
“There’s no question that the Anglican Church has a substantial reach across the country, and that faith communities can play a very important part in educating the public, on bringing people together to really look at grassroots efforts that could combat human trafficking,” Gosse said.
“Also, I think faith communities are very respected as being cohesive and organized and caring and positive on some of these socioeconomic issues. So when you have the opportunity to speak to your policy makers and lawmakers and political representatives, I think it brings with it a lot of clout and a lot of credibility.”
- Click here to access the Anglican Church of Canada’s new human trafficking web hub, which includes a video featuring Archbishop Fred Hiltz.