Kamloops mother of woman lost to human trafficking marks another year without answers - InfoNews

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Kamloops mother of woman lost to human trafficking marks another year without answers

A forensic sketch of Jessie Foster as she may look now.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Diana Trepkov
March 31, 2020 - 7:13 AM

Glendene Grant wants you to walk away from today with one thing in mind — Jessie Foster.

Remember her name, her face, her story and think about the life the once popular and funny young woman who loved to dance, didn’t get to lead.

File it all away, just in case it one day helps to answer questions that were raised 14 years ago this week when she disappeared.

“That’s what I have been working for. I want her name and her picture and her story to be everywhere. I can’t go out and find her. Some families, when a loved one goes missing, can put on searches and they find their loved ones. I can’t go searching for Jessie now — even if we did, there’s nowhere to look, we don’t know where she is,” Grant, Jessie’s mom, said from her home in Kamloops.

“I have to keep going, get her name out there all the time everywhere, constantly. Then I can sleep at night knowing I've done all I could.”

It was March 29, 2006 when Grant’s life changed and she realized her daughter, who had been living with her boyfriend Peter Todd in North Las Vegas, stopped answering calls.

It was out of character and Grant and her family knew something was wrong. By April 9, Grant was filing a missing person’s report with the North Las Vegas Police Department.

Todd was questioned and eventually cleared of police suspicion, though not Grant’s.

In the time that followed, Grant learned through a private investigator that her 21-year-old daughter, who had lived in Las Vegas for less than a year, had been hospitalized with a broken jaw, forced to work at an escort agency and arrested for prostitution.

Grant now knows Jessie was the victim of human trafficking and hopes one day they will meet again and she will be able to offer the help she needs to recover.

“I feel that there is a chance of her case being solved and her coming home alive or being found,” she said, adding that thinking otherwise would be no way to live.

“Even having a sad life is better than no life. If she is alive that’s better.”

Until then, however, Jessie’s already changed the world for the better, which Grant explained is the one good thing that’s come from the tremendous loss the family has struggled with for 14 years.

“Jessie’s story has touched so many people,” she said.

Since learning what happened to her daughter before her disappearance, Grant has become an advocate for missing women and helped people understand the workings of human trafficking a bit better.

She started an organization called Mothers Against Trafficking Humans and has spoken to students, front line workers, parents and lawmakers about human trafficking — something she said no one is immune from.

Education, she said, is the one avenue of protection. If Jessie had known more about what was ahead of her, her life might have turned out differently.

In 2014, Grant also helped get Jessie’s Law passed, making it illegal to purchase or advertise sexual services and illegal to live on the material benefits from sex work in Canada. 

“Many of us fought to get that bill passed. I was fortunate enough to be invited to testify, and I believe Jessie’s story helped pass this law,” she said.

Perhaps, however, the biggest thing she’s done is to go on living.

“I have a full life and have had one really big and horrid thing happen in it,” she said. “I want Jessie to come home and see her family is surviving. It didn’t kill any of us…I want her to see we stayed like we’ve always been for her. When she gets home I want her to know she didn’t have to deal with knowing she destroyed her family. She just needs to focus on getting better.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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