Gift Box and Human Trafficking in Canada

posted on 03/09/15 02:26 pm by Kathy McMerty  

By Fr Paul Hansen, C.Ss.R.
Photos courtesy of the Archives

As you are aware I sent out a notice originating primarily with the religious based here in Toronto that a GIFT BOX would be erected at the corner of Church and King St. in Toronto during the Pan and Parapan Am Games. The Pan Am games ran from July 10-26 and the Parapan Am Games run from Aug 7-15. Faith groups are using the occasion of the games to educate the public on the horrors of human trafficking.

Faith Alliance bringing the Gift Box to Toronto’s Pan Am Parapan Am Games is a collaboration of religious and other partners working to end human trafficking. It is sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto.

Research has shown that human trafficking is:

  • The fastest growing global crime

  • One of the largest income sources for organized crime

  • A $150 BILLION industry affecting 30 million people worldwide

  • The second largest source of illegal income worldwide

  • Documented in Ontario, with 511 reported cases from 2011-2013, 62% of these people were Canadian citizens and 63% were between the ages of 15 – 24

  • Widespread in Canada but most prevalent in Ontario

  • Often routed through Toronto
  • The Sisters of St. Joseph of London, Ontario are very strong supporters of this effort and Sr. Sue Wilson is a much sought after expert on this terrible situation.

    An Information Centre in the shape of a giant gift box wrapped in a ribbon will be opened each day of the games to highlight the plight of people being trafficked in and to Canada. The project is an initiative of the Faith Alliance To End Human Trafficking (

    The Gift Box sits on the property of St. James Anglican Church and is open each day from 10am to 6pm.

    The Gift Box idea first appeared during the London Olympics in 2012. The word Gift comes from the UN.GIFT = United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking. The Box has appeared in about 100 locations in four countries. Students from the Ontario College of Art and Design designed the Toronto box which stands about four metres tall.

    Working with our Fr. Joe Maier in the slum of Klong Toey, Bangkok the issue of human trafficking has become vital to my sense of mission and biblical justice. Added to this is the harvesting of organs from places like Africa, Asia and Latin America for sale in the West. In some cultures girls are not as desired or important as boys and so kidneys are harvested from little girls to be sold in the West. A poor family receives a small sum of money for the kidney and a Westerner pays thousands.

    If the Gift Box is ever in your area, take a look. The work is very worth supporting. Ottawa tells us in their report of 2012 that over 90% of human trafficking in Canada is develop a comprehensive action plan to tackle all forms of human trafficking that will be domestic. It is happening all around us.

    To sign an on-line petition requesting that the government sent to Kathleen Wynne (Premier of Ontario) click here Petition or contact MC Havey at the Provincial Office to have a paper copy mailed to you. There have been over 900 visitors to the Gift Box and over 2,500 people have signed the petition so far.

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