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The Salvation Army is the largest non-governmental provider of social services in Canada and has worked with sexually exploited and trafficked individuals for more than 130 years. The Salvation Army is committed to fighting sexual exploitation and has championed rehabilitative care and awareness across the country by opening Deborah’s Gate in 2009, the first Canadian safe house and residential program of its kind for survivors of human trafficking.


Deborah’s Gate is a specialized program of care that exists to serve international and domestic women age 18 and up who have been trafficked into situations of sexual and labour exploitation, and are in need of protective and restorative housing and healing. Our program is named after Deborah, the first female, Hebrew judge in 1100 BC who, in a time of great oppression and violence against women and children, led the Hebrew people into a season of victory and peace. The word gate represents safety and passage into a new place, which our program aims to provide for victims of human trafficking.


Deborah’s Gate seeks to provide a safe and restorative environment that fosters a holistic approach to healing for female survivors of human trafficking.

It was really hard to trust anyone after what I experienced in Alberta. I felt hopeless and afraid and I would shake uncontrollably whenever I was reminded of my trafficker. At Deborah’s Gate, I was given the physical, emotional and spiritual support that I needed to be able to overcome my trauma; the staff helped me get my life back together so that I could enjoy it to the fullest. I now have a good job, a great roommate and a wonderful place to live in the community. I know that Deborah’s Gate played a huge part in my success and I will always be grateful for that.” - Former Deborah's Gate Resident


Safety – Our confidential, secure location and 24-hour staffing provides maximum security for women fleeing violent and exploitative perpetrators.


Hope – We strive to create a peaceful and beautiful environment where women and girls are able to find long-term freedom from fear and trauma and hope for their future.

An image drawn by a former resident to represent the hope she found at Deborah’s Gate.


Restoration – A holistic approach to healing is offered through community resources well-equipped to provide confidential and culturally sensitive social services, as well as internal programming. A focus on physical, emotional and spiritual healing provides residents with the tools needed to heal from their trauma.


Human trafficking is the illegal trade in human beings for the purpose of exploitation. It is essentially controlling a person for the purpose of exploiting them, and is a form of modern day slavery.


The United Nations’ Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (The Palermo Protocol) defines human trafficking as:

“the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purposes of exploitation.”


The circumstances in a situation of exploitation vary from case to case; however, a number of significant underlying similarities in each case can be used to identify potentially exploited individuals.


An individual may be exploited if they demonstrate a lack of control over:

  • personal schedule and basic interactions with the public, especially if someone consistently speaks on their behalf when questioned
  • ability to move from one place to another and appears to be supervised at all times
  • identification documents i.e. driver’s license, government ID, passport, working permits
  • finances and the ability to purchase basic necessities

It is important to note that this is not a comprehensive list of identifying factors of human trafficking. Furthermore, identifying factors may not all occur simultaneously; one victim might experience exploitation very differently than another. Regardless, if you should come aware of any of the above mentioned factors, there is cause for alarm and further investigation should be prompted.

Additional information: UN Publication: Human Trafficking Indicators



Trafficking operations exist in both highly visible venues, and virtually invisible spaces.


Victims of sexual and or labour exploitation have been identified in:

  • Illegal drug labs, trick pads, and grow ops
  • Residential Homes
  • Illegal Employment
  • Street Level Prostitution
  • Emergency Shelters
  • Pornographic Images and Videos
  • Exotic dance clubs
  • Massage Parlors
  • Micro Brothels
  • Escort Services
  • Online Exploitation
  • Modeling Studios
  • Adult Stores (video, books and other material)
  • Gang-owned Businesses