Coming to the big city for medical treatment can land vulnerable Inuit into the hands of sex traffickers.
“Yes, we have been dealing with quite a few families with issues in regards to this,” said Josée Mensales, of the Montreal police sexual exploitation investigation unit.
Mensales was at the opening Monday of the Centre Illuvik, which means a place to stay or rest in Inuktitut. And the unveiling of a new video with safety tips.
The centre has 91 rooms for Inuit coming south from Illuvik, in northern Quebec, for medical treatment. But sometimes patients and their medical escorts can get distracted in Montreal, miss their flights home, and become vulnerable to exploitation.
“Everybody knows everybody in the village but here people do not know each other,” added Jane Beaudoin, executive director of the Inuulitsivik health centre. “You have to be careful about who you talk to and what you do.
“This video is very sensitive to those needs and points out exactly what we try to get across.”
Maggie Putulik, the director of Illuvik, says the partnership with police also shows sensitivity to the needs of a different culture.
Carlo Deangelis says the video hopes to build trust, as well as inform about the realities and dangers that lurk in southern Canada.
“We want to make sure that they have a safe stay when they are here,” said the Aboriginal Liaison Officer for Montreal police.