Mona glanced at Brenda, both women noting the growing change in their protégé’s mood. Mona nodded imperceptibly to Brenda who, taking the cue said, “Malinda, we hope you are not offended by our group’s making so many arrangements for you,” she didn’t wait for a reply and continued, When we get to Edmonton, we have arranged for you to attend a multicultural high school where a wide variety of cultures and languages are celebrated, many of them Aboriginal.”
Mona continued, “There is an organization in Edmonton which is one hundred percent privately funded. It has created, Mîkiwȃm which is Home in Cree. It is a remodeled motel where you will have your own fully furnished room with an ensuite…”
Mona was interrupted mid-sentence, “I don’t understand. This is starting to scare me. Where are you taking me? Is it some kind of juvie place? Are you guys a cult?”
“No dear, it is nothing like that at all. Let me start at the beginning. We, Brenda, and I, are part of Janet’s group from Gary’s Diner. We operate the system at this end to help teenage girls leave toxic relationships and set them up for a fresh start in life. Many of the staff at your new home are Aboriginal women who left a life similar to yours. Many are university graduates with some having careers in medicine, social work, and law. Others are mothers who volunteer their time at the residence.
“The financial supporters are people well known in the community with integrity beyond reproach.
“This is a new concept, and we are hoping that with guidance, no financial worries, a safe environment you will find your direction in life, maybe attend university or college.”
“Are we making any sense?” asked Mona.
Malinda appeared to have calmed somewhat, but her mentors saw that she wasn’t convinced, and they were not surprised. Many human traffickers were female, luring children, and teenagers into a life of slavery or the sex trade, the thought terrifying to anyone.
Brenda continued, “Do you remember the police officer who came to Gary’s Diner and spoke with you?” “Yes.
“Aleyna. Sergeant Aleyna.”
“Would it help if we got her on her on Zoom and speak with her?”
Malinda sighed audibly and felt rather foolish doubting the good intentions of Mona and Brenda. She was convinced back at the diner and the fact that these women know Aleyna made her feel better about the situation so replied, “I feel like such an idiot. I’m sorry. Everything is happening so fast, and it is so good, it is almost surreal.”
“That’s okay Malinda. We completely understand. None of us in the pipeline knew what we were doing at the beginning and have relied on professionals like Aleyna and others for guidance,” said Mona.
“We have helped women leave abusive relationships with their children, many of them too frightened to communicate effectively. We’ve helped these women, from all social backgrounds start a new life, many finishing high school and going on to find a career. We do the same for them as we are doing for you. They live at a safe house with their children with no time limit on their residency.
“This is what we are offering you, except your home is for teenage girls only. Is this making more sense?” “I think so,” replied Malinda. “I’ve struggled my entire life wondering if I will survive, seeing so many others become addicts, many selling themselves in Rupert to pay for the drugs. Or just give up and kill themselves.”
She rubbed her face with both hands, then through her hair, took a sip of coffee, then continued, “I think I’m okay now. Sorry again for the drama.”
“No apology needed,” offered Mona, “We’ve both been there at one time or another, right Brenda?”
“Absolutely. Now, how about breakfast in town and hit a couple of malls and see if you can find a couple of outfits? Does that sound like a plan?”
Malinda smiled broadly and replied, “It does. Just let me shower,” not looking forward to wearing the same clothes three days in a row.
Mona rose from the table with an extended arm and said, “Before you do that, how about checking out my oldest daughter’s closet and see if there is anything you like. She is in school in Montreal and would love you to have whatever you want.”
“Really? She won’t mind my borrowing something?”
“Not at all. If I called her now, she would insist. And you are not borrowing. Take whatever you like.”
“Okay,” Malinda replied, smiling, and shaking her head slightly. “I really don’t know what to say. I’m really confused.”
“We are showing you a new life, a path you can travel contributing to your culture, which you mentioned was your dream. Get used to it Malinda, this is your new life,” said Mona, as the two left the kitchen as Brenda began putting the cups in the dishwasher.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Dr. Maya Angelou
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just the first step.”
Martin Luther King
“Indigenous women and girls, newcomers to Canada, Black and racialized women, and those living in poverty are particularly at risk of being trafficked.”
Brieanna Charlebois Blue Line October 2021
Malinda vowed to change this.
Social Secrets debuts this fall.
100% of the royalties are donated to women’s support groups. Thank you for supporting an end to violence against women & children.