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Sister Pierrette Boissé, Fighting Human Trafficking


Sister Pierrette admiring the Saint Laurence River in Dorval, Quebec, Canada.


“I’ve written and signed so many letters and petitions. Sometimes I think about the minister’s secretary watching them pile up in his office. I figure he’s going to have to tackle them at some point…”

Pierrette Boissé

Since 2004, Sister Pierrette Boissé, has been fighting human trafficking. Although officially abolished 150 years ago, slavery has taken on a new form: human trafficking. It is estimated that in Canada 30 to 50 percent of victims of this human market are indigenous women.

Today, Sister Pierrette gathers and distributes information to people and organizations involved in the struggle against trafficking.

It is a demanding yet slow-moving job. In 2002, human trafficking was not even acknowledged as a criminal offense. Today, people speak of it and are more aware of the problem.

When even a single person escapes, it is a victory.

From Teaching to Social Justice

After her entrance into the Congregation, Sister Pierrette Boissé taught in Ottawa and later in Toronto.

In 1989, she joined Sister Mary Alice Danaher, CND, in Canim Lake, British Colombia, where the two women lived among 500 people of the Shuswap community of First Nations.

In addition to teaching at the Eliza Archie Memorial School, the sisters visited the sick and the elderly. They helped prepare funeral services, they accompanied adults and children preparing to receive a sacrament. From this proximity to the people, a long lasting relationship was formed.



Sister Pierrette with two students at Eliza Archie Memorial School in Canim Lake.


In order for the people of the reservation to have access to higher education without leaving their families and their way of life, the sisters headed an adult education centre affiliated to Gonzaga University in the U.S. Thanks to this program, the people of Canim Lake now have their own teachers and the Shuswap language, which was threatened by extinction, is taught in their school.

In 2004, Pierrette Boissé became coordinator of the Congregation de Notre-Dame’s Social Justice Network and left the reservation to work in Montreal. Many issues were under discussion, among them, opposing human trafficking, refusing capital punishment and assisting migrants.

Groups of religious congregations actively opposing human trafficking were formed. Sister Pierrette became part of UNANIMA International.

Since 2009, Sister Pierrette dedicates herself exclusively to the human trafficking issue. Because many indigenous women are victims of this scourge, this mission enables her to express her solidarity to First Nations people.

Sister Pierrette wrote letters to editors in order to raise their awareness about some of the want-ad they published. Indeed, questionable massage parlours and escort services exploiting victims of trafficking openly advertise. Following this campaign, some of the newspapers stopped publishing those ads. “What would happen if large numbers of citizens took small actions?” asked Sister Pierrette.

UNANIMA International’s awareness raising material for the campaign “Stop the Demand.” Sister Pierrette participated in developing this campaign.

Sister Pierrette with Sister Mary Lou Simcoe, SUSC, during a UN session in March 2009.

Sister Pierrette has also been guest speaker at the Wampum Centre. This Montreal organization is a cultural and spiritual meeting place for Native and non-Native people.

CATHII (Committee of Action against Human Trafficking National and International) with Senator Gerard A. Phalen composed legislation extending residence permits for women who are victims of trafficking.

February 14, 2011 demonstration commemorating missing First Nations women.

Prior to the June 2012 Canada Formula 1 race, the Mouvement anti-traite de Montréal – MATM – (Montreal Anti-Trafficking Movement) mobilised in order to heighten awareness in the hotel industry about human trafficking for sexual exploitation.

Prior to the June 2012 Canada Formula 1 race, the Mouvement anti-traite de Montréal – MATM – (Montreal Anti-Trafficking Movement) mobilised in order to heighten awareness in the hotel industry about human trafficking for sexual exploitation.

Prior to the June 2012 Canada Formula 1 race, the Mouvement anti-traite de Montréal – MATM – (Montreal Anti-Trafficking Movement) mobilised in order to heighten awareness in the hotel industry about human trafficking for sexual exploitation.

Placards of demonstrators participating in the march “Pour un avenir durable SANS traite des personnes” (For a Sustainable Future WITHOUT Human Trafficking) held in Montreal in April 2016.

A conference organized in January 2017 by the Wampum Centre, where Sister Pierrette spoke about trafficking.