by Michell Spoden
Following is my interview with the mother of Jessie Foster, a girl who went missing and is believed to have become a victim of human trafficking.
Michell: Please tell us a little about yourself.
Glendene: My name is Glendene Grant. I am fifty seven years old and from Canada. I work in retail, and I am the daycare provider for three of my four grandchildren. I am also the Founder of M.A.T.H. (Mothers against Trafficking Humans), an organization that came from the disappearance of my daughter, Jessie Foster, who fell victim to human traffickers.
Michell: Please share with our viewers a bit about how this horrific event started with your daughter? How long has she been missing?
Glendene: Jessie’s case started several years before her disappearance. When she was just seventeen years old and in eleventh grade of high school, she met a young man with whom she became friends. This person is considered a pimp, a recruiter, a human trafficker by many, including the police, but all Jessie knew was that he was a (so-called) friend. When she was 20 years old, she moved back to Kamloops, BC, from Calgary, AB, where she met this person. After she moved, he started calling her and asking her to join him on trips with expenses paid. I told her that “nothing was for free”, but she trusted him and she went. First to Fort Lauderdale and The Keys, Florida and then later to Manhattan, NY, then Atlantic City, NJ. On the second trip, instead of coming home, she was taken to Las Vegas, NV. This was May 13, 2005. She was kept there for ten months and on March 29, 2006, she went missing.
Michell: What are some important things to remember when helping to find a missing person? Who should people contact in case they have something to report? What about the issues checking for the missing person over the borders?
Glendene: The first thing to remember is to report them missing to the police immediately. Then you make sure there is a missing poster and you need to get on social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, whatever you choose … you can even use them all) and start sharing it with all the info you have. Contact the newspapers, radio stations, and television networks in your area and get them to air a story about your missing loved one. If your child is suspected to be the victim of human trafficking, there are many organizations to help. But don’t just go to any of them without first having someone check them out. Sadly, there are many people out there ready and willing to exploit families of the missing and murdered, as we want answers and are willing to believe more than we should.
If someone suspects they know something about a missing person, they need to contact their local police or 9-1-1. You can also call Crime Stoppers if you want to remain anonymous. But do not attempt to rescue the person yourself, unless you have had training to do this type of thing.
I think there needs to be more training for border services employees to spot suspected human trafficking victims. They need to have the authority to detain suspected human traffickers and call the proper officials to help the victims that are rescued during these stops.
Michell: Do you feel your local authorities have done a decent job of making an effort to find your daughter?
Glendene: I feel that my local RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) has done all they can do for Jessie’s case, considering she did not go missing in Canada, she was reported missing from the USA. But I have not always thought that way about the NLV PD (North Las Vegas Police Department); however, for the past couple of years they have been more active. Almost as if they have been taking it more seriously as of late. I also believe that I know why. In the past, most people did not take human trafficking as a crime that happened in North America and they used to believe that people chose to go missing. I also believe that the “old boy’s school” way of thought, was that that happened to Jessie was her fault because of her choices… and we now know, she did not get to choose anything. They used to think that WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS, STAYS IN VEGAS.
Michell: Do you think the authorities should do things differently when it comes to protecting or finding people?
Glendene: I believe that authorities need to be retrained on missing persons and human trafficking cases. Things have changed a lot in the past five or so years when it comes to those crimes. As a matter of fact, they never used to be considered crimes at all. With retraining of authorities, they could then, in turn, train and educate their local citizens to help stop kidnappings by stepping forward when they see something, or report it immediately so the crime can be solved right away. The authorities need to use more street cameras, and more need to be installed. They have proven to be of great value when it comes to finding clues to these types of cases.
Michell: A while back I was speaking with someone about missing persons and the efforts to find them. It was brought to my attention that maybe some of these people may not want to be found. Some examples that were expressed to me were illegals and abuse cases. Could you reflect on that a bit? Do you have any idea what the law has to say about this type of perspective?
Glendene: This is something that has been dubbed by many “the malicious missing”, even if they are doing it to protect themselves from abuse. There is a way that I believe would help the loved ones of the missing from going through what we have been and continue to go through. And if they are illegals, I am sorry, then go back home if you don’t want to be here legally and if you have been forced to come here, report it. Going missing, causing undue worry and pain is unconscionable. No one deserves to have a missing loved one, and for it to be on purpose is horrendous. If you are being abuse and too afraid to go to the police to report it as a crime, then at least go to the police and let them know you are leaving; you are not missing. And then if/when someone reports you missing, they won’t waste time and money looking for you. Sounds simple? It is.
Michell: Do you believe your daughter is alive today? If so what do you believe is going on with her?
Glendene: I have always believed that Jessie is alive. I simply do not feel in my heart that she is not alive. However, I do not know anything for sure. What I do know, is that I will continue this way until there is proof she is not and that can only be done if her remains are found and DNA proves it is my daughter. If Jessie is alive, she is not living a life anyone would want. I believe that anything and everything she does is what she is told to do. I believe she is forced into prostitution—that she is the victim of modern-day sex-slavery.
Michell: What have you learned thought this whole process?
Glendene: What I have learned in the almost nine years since Jessie went missing is to never lose hope. That one person can make a difference. Through Jessie’s name, I have made a difference; we have raised so much awareness to the crime of human trafficking. Educated many youth the age Jessie was when she met a recruiter of human trafficking, but she had no idea what he was. Made parents aware that you cannot kick your kids out of the house and we have to reduce the amount of run-aways each year. They make the perfect victim for a human trafficker. I have learned that without laws to prevent this crime, nothing will change. But the thing I have learned the most, is that we can all survive this crime. There is help for the survivors and their loved ones. We do not have to let these perpetrators continue to victimize us. We will survive and then we will thrive.
Michell: Please share with our readers some details about your daughter and any important things to remember when potentially looking for her.
Glendene: My daughter, Jessica Edith Louise Foster, we called her Jessie and she sometimes spelt it Jessi, is my second of four daughters. When she went missing, Jessie was twenty one years old, if she is alive, she is thirty now. Jessie was blonde, but her hair could be dyed brown; she has hazel eyes; is 5’6” or 5’7”; and at the time of her disappearance she was around 110 pounds.
Jessie was always popular in school. She still has many friends she made in kindergarten wanting her to come home. Some even attended her sister’s wedding eight years after Jessie went missing. Many of her friends from Calgary have reached out to me since her disappearance, and I was even invited to attend Jessie’s ten year reunion in Calgary in 2012. I attended in her honor.
We lived in the same house from the time Jessie was three years old in 1987, until 2012 … when she was twenty eight. When we sold the house, the new owners tore it down and rebuilt, but we will never forget 834 Dominion Street. For almost 30 years, everyone knew where to find us. We even had the same phone number since we first moved into that house. We even kept that number after moving, turning it into my husband’s cell number.
Jessie went to Lloyd George elementary school from kindergarten to Grade seven, which was the same school I attended as a child. Then she went up to my junior high school, John Peterson for grades eight to eleven, but finished grades eleven and twelve in Calgary, when she moved to live with her dad & step-mom.
Jessie became a vegetarian at age eleven, and we found out after many years, that it was not just a stage she was going through, this was forever. As a youngster, Jessie went to Brownies; Guides; Bible summer camp; swimming lessons; dance lessons; and everything else she could sign up for. Jessie always did march to the beat of her own drum. She loved people; loved dancing; loved driving; loved good food; loved life. And if Jessie was murdered, it is a horrible tragedy to have that wonderful soul that beautiful life, cut short.
I would love to have Jessie come home to us alive; heal her mind, body and soul; and meet her beautiful nieces and nephew. She does not know that her two little sisters are now mothers. I would love for her to see what wonderful young women her two younger and her older sister have become. I am so proud of all my daughters, they have overcome a huge ordeal in their lives; the disappearance of their sister.
I would love for Jessie to see that her step-dad Jim and I got married last year. We have been engaged since 1997, but never tied the knot until recently.
That one of her sisters got married.
I would have to tell her that Grandpa Grant died in 2011.
There are so many things to tell her, good and bad. But the thing that matters the most is that I just want my Jessie-Bessie home and I will find her, or die trying
Michell: If there is anything you could say to people out there today who has a friend or family member that is missing, what would it be?
Glendene: There is a lot I would say to the loved ones of a missing person, but I would say what comes to me depending on their situation. It is not so cut-and-dry that there is a textbook answer. But I would ensure they have done all they can do as the family to help keep the case in the eyes of the public. It is another person who will eventually see our missing loved ones one day. We have to ensure they know that they are missing. They need to make a Facebook page or another social networking site and contact the media. Get this information out to the public and get it everywhere.
Following are the links where reader may find more about Jessie and the issue of human trafficking.
Jessie Foster’s page on NamUs:https://www.findthemissing.org/cases/177
About the Interviewer
Michell Spoden is the author of Stricken Yet Crowned and is also pursuing a transitional housing project for woman with an agricultural aspect. She has a degree in Business Science Administration and is finishing her bachelor’s in Project Management.