Why Do People Disappear? A Look at Human Trafficking

I want to thank you all for supporting our family during this difficult week that marks the fourth year of Marilyn’s disappearance. We have even received some new clues, which always encourages us to continue!
Several people asked if I knew why Marilyn has been missing for all this time. Unfortunately, I don’t. I am still considering all of the hypotheses.

Usually, a person disappears due to one or more of the following scenarios:
To escape a difficult home environment (physical, sexual, emotional); to escape from difficult living or working conditions; to start a new life under a new identity; kidnapping; parental abduction; to join the witness protection program; suicide; murder; mental illness or progressive dementia (schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, etc…);, natural death; accident or criminal act; slavery (sexual, work, or other); to escape law enforcement; to join a cult or other religious organization, and so on.

Source: Wikipedia: Missing Person

There are hundreds of active missing people cases in the province of Québec. Although the exact cause of the disappearances are often unknown, the consequences can be very serious for the missing person, family, and friends.

Note: The content of this article and the links below are particularly difficult, and its reading is not recommended for minors and sensitive souls.

Josée asked me if we had sought out those who kidnap young women for prostitution. I thought about this scenario more than once. I even spent whole nights in bad neighborhoods around the country in search of Marilyn. In these searches, I have not seen the tip of the iceberg of the trouble, nor I have seen my sister. I will never forget the pale face of a young woman from East Vancouver who wished that someone was looking for her.

Over the years, I was told many horror stories related to human trafficking. Unfortunately, this scenario needs to be considered with the others in Marilyn’s disappearance. I will not deny that it scares me.

Here’s what happened to three young women in Québec; three stories of missing people among others. The names are fictitious to protect the identity of the victims.

Isabelle went for a job interview following an advertisement in the local newspaper. She had just finished school and was looking for a job in her field of expertise. She had been given an appointment in the afternoon. She had barely arrived when she heard the news… She had the job! Only,…another job. She was an escort and she was starting immediately. It would take her more than 18 months to escape. After the first attempt, she was thrown down the stairs, she was beaten, and raped repeatedly. Her “transport” lead her into new “exotic dancer bars” every two weeks. She worked days and nights in large cities and rural regions of the Québec province. She finally escaped after a third attempt. Despite the physical and moral wounds, she still refuses to file a complaint, huddled in fear. Her family also receives threats, ignored by local authorities. Still, life slowly resumes its course.

Lisa, a beautiful teenage runaway, was tied up in an apartment near a highway for more than a year, a victim of street gangs. Three girls were working as prostitutes days and nights under threats from their pimps, each receiving an average of twenty clients per day. Lisa was not even sixteen years old.

Jane, eighteen years old, was locked in a basement of a posh Montreal neighborhood for nearly two years. One customer finally took pity on her while he heard her whisper “mom” through her sobs. He called the police anonymously.

So many horror stories. Almost no action or prevention.

To all of those who are thinking of running away or taking off on a whim, I implore you to look for resources at school or in your circle of friends or family. Those who are waiting at the bus station to offer you a coffee or a warm place to sleep “for a few days” will not help you. They are your age, but they are lying about who they are and what they are expecting of you.

To all of those who prey on vulnerable people, please notice the sores on the legs, the puffy eyes, and the haggard look of the person that you are abusing. You have the courage to commit your illegal act, maybe you’ll find the courage to show a little heart and help the person anonymously.

For more information on human trafficking in Canada:

Human Trafficking in Canada: Report of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Human Sex Trafficking: Canada’s Hidden Crime

Sex Trafficking: a National Disgrace

In French:

The Absent Aunt

Between each Valentine’s Day and February 17th, I go through the last bits of our conversations in my head.What did I miss? Are there any words that could have made a difference? Was it me who did not listen or you who did not say?
Were we both under the false impression that we would continue this conversation soon? Were you forced to keep quiet?
Will I know one day the cause of this silence? Or should I grow older still hoping to hear your voice?I learned to cherish your words like treasures. Despite the time that passes, I force them to cling to my memory so that they can resonate in my mind like if you had spoken to me yesterday. Time does not help. It takes me away from your laughter, your intonation, your sentences, and your songs. I am desperately looking for a piece of you through the photos and the memories. I wonder why I don’t have more.The time has taken close relatives who left without being able to say goodbye to you.
The time that passes makes me say bad words that I do not mince toward those who just seem to find excuses.
The time passes, relentlessly, but there is still hope that you can be found.
I continue to say ”Après la pluie, le beau temps.”

The time that passes also made you an aunt.
You loved music so much, we are sharing your passion with her.
In due time, she will know your story.
Will you be with us to tell her?

I wait and I search for you Marilyn, beloved aunt.

With love,
Nathalie, Laurent & Laetitia xxx

Letter by Pina Arcamone (The Missing Children’s Network)

Message for Marilyn Bergeron

I am so honoured to have been invited to prepare a message that will be posted on the website that Marilyn’s family has lovingly created on her behalf.

For the past few years, I have had the privilege of supporting the family in their on-going efforts to locate their missing daughter.  I continue to be impressed by their unwavering commitment and staunch determination to find Marilyn – a need that is just as strong today as the day she first went missing.

Although I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Marilyn, I somehow feel as though I know her!  Through her mom’s eyes, I have gotten to know the young and vibrant woman that is Marilyn, her passion for life and her great love of music.  To this day, it is hard to comprehend what happened to Marilyn back on February 17, 2008.  What I do know for certain is just how much she is loved and cherished by her family and how deeply she is missed with each passing day.

It is our duty to support the family, so that on those days when it is too much to bear, we may say to them, We will hold you up and we will help you search.  And most importantly, we, as a community, will not stop looking or hoping and will never allow Marilyn to be forgotten.

To each and every one of you who in the past four years have stood by Andrée, Michel, Nathalie, Laurent and baby Laetitia … published an article … aired a special report … interviewed the family … posted search notices in your community … reported a sighting to law enforcement, I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all our tireless efforts.

My final thoughts are for the family … please know that you will always have a special place in my heart. As an organization, we will never stop searching.  It’s time to bring Marilyn back home!

Warmest regards,


Pina Arcamone

Director General

The Missing Children’s Network

Letter by Marilyn’s parents


The beauty of life
Sustains me
Without it,
My heart would have stopped
The helpless wait
Gives me an extra day
A day of hope and more
Until dark

The wait burdens my sleep
I’m afraid to fall asleep
Afraid of missing something from Her
I guess and dream of her return
Images are revealed,
Her pretty face paled by the time smiles at me

Under its chilly rays
I watch the moon
In the silence of the moment
I hear a voice
That of my Daughter, my Child
Her words, her words are lost
In the illusion of my thoughts

What would I not give?
My life may be
For the magic of one moment
One breath of love
In which she wakes
The memory of a spoken sentence

Come back … I beg you!
Give us your news! What happened to you?


Wherever you are Mary… Despite the four years that separate us, the hope continues to nourish our hearts. Never forget that you can always count on us, you know. No matter what! …We will never abandon you. We are very worried, we do not know anything about you.

Your departure left us deeply shocked and surrounded by sadness.

We miss you Marilyn. You are missed by everyone in your family!

When will we be able to finally hold you in our arms?
We badly need to hear your voice ….Please try to communicate with us… Anytime, we will be there!

Your parents (mom and dad), who love you and only want your happiness and your return!




Four-Year Mark by Andrée Champagne, AFPAD

It’s been four years since Marilyn Bergeron went missing on February 17th.The Bergeron family has never stopped searching for her.

Over the last 4 years, relatives of Marilyn Bergeron worked tirelessly in trying to locate the young woman or hoping to find any clue that could help.

They have extended their research across Canda and even to the United States, but without success so far.

Since the disappearance of Marilyn, the family has always relentlessly continued the search. They left nothing out: They plastered pictures of Marilyn in Quebec City, Montreal, and even Ontario.

Marilyn’s sister, Nathalie, who lives in California, never gave up. Nathalie and her parents have done considerable research on cases of disappearances in Canada and the United States. They developed their own expertise and noticed some issues in the way disappearances are handled in Quebec and Canada. On numerous occasions they informed our governments of the many legal obstacles that a family encounters, especially for the disappearance of an adult who may be helpless or in physical and psychological distress.

I accompanied the Bergeron family since the early weeks of the disappearance of Marilyn. I can testify to all the efforts (physical and psychological) and energy needed for a family to search for a loved one.

In my name and the name of AFPAD, I salute your determination and courage. Day after day I see you with your hopes, as well as your despair. Time is and will always be your worst enemy. Your determination will help you achieve the one goal that you set, that is of finding Marilyn.

Marilyn, if you ever read this message, know that your family is doing everything humanly possible to find you. And they live in hope that one day they can hold you in their arms again.

For those reading this message also, if you have any information please contact the authorities or the family so that finally they can resume their normal lives.
Andrée Champagne
AFPAD Coordinator for the Quebec Sector and East-of-Québec.


Letter by a childhood friend

Letter written by Meggy (Marie-Ève Gagnon) in February 2011 for the event ”Think of Marilyn.”

We met about 19 years ago. Naive, young and innocent… Nothing could stop us. You lived only a few houses away from mine. There are so many souvenirs. We invented games where Robin Hood was perched in the trees in your backyard. Remember the famous show in your basement? We charged $2 per person so we could go to McDonald’s.  The thousands of letters written during school hours with our secret code so that people could never understand. Basketball, Nirvana, Pulp Fiction … Our music group where you were the only one with talent. The numerous exits through the window of my basement so I could come to yours and talk until the wee hours of the morning. Our first cigarette … You’d had the brilliant idea to put some babypowder on the ceiling fan so that Michel and Andrée would not suspect anything! But what a mess! Our first party where your mother Andrée discovered everything. And then you moved away … Of course we both continued to evolve separately but always kept in touch.

This is true friendship. No need to talk every day but never a single doubt about one another. You are part of my life and even though we’re not together and we have not spoken for over 3 years, you are by my side through good and bad times. You’re a part of me!

I love you Mary

Your sister of heart Meggy