Human trafficking happens in ways and in places that the average Canadian might not expect. Sometimes, it happens in our very own backyards.
On this National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, the Ottawa Rape Crisis Center is asking you to join us as we shed light on the realities of human trafficking and take steps to ensure everyone lives a life free from violence and exploitation. Data suggests most people who are trafficked are exploited by someone they know and often in their own communities. In fact, in 2019, only 11% of victims in Canada reported that they were trafficked by a stranger (source: Statistics Canada).
The reality is that all too often, a trafficker looks like a controlling new boyfriend. A boss that takes away a live-in nanny's passport and identification. An outgoing teenaged girl who introduces a new friend to a group of young men. Or a family member that prevents a victim from maintaining close friendships or making new ones.
Traffickers target people who have experienced trauma and isolate them from their families and friends because this gives them more control. Traffickers look for women and girls, Indigenous people, immigrants, disabled individuals, 2SLGBTQQIA+ folks and kids in care or on the street because they know that they are already marginalized and there is often far less support for them (source: Public Safety Canada). Traffickers not only manipulate people, they also take advantage of the violence and inequality that results from colonial, patriarchal, racist and ableist systems and beliefs.
Ontario accounts for the vast majority of human trafficking incidents reported in Canada. In 2019 alone, 62% of all reported incidents in Canada occurred in our province (source: Statistics Canada).
We cannot end exploitation, violence, and human trafficking until we educate ourselves about the realities of violence in our society and come together in solidarity. The ORCC is taking important first steps in our own education and collaboration through several projects:
- We are working with community partners to identify gaps and strengthen the supports that are available to survivors of human trafficking, most notably through direct programs to inmates at the Ottawa Carleton Detention Center. Our goal is to provide survivors with information, tools and the knowledge that they are not alone in order to decrease their vulnerability to traffickers.
- Indigenous voices have been excluded from anti-trafficking initiatives that directly impact their lives and communities even though traffickers disproportionately target Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQIA people. This is why ORCC is supporting Indigenous-led efforts such as the Anti-violence and Coercion Taskforce for Indigenous Organizations and Networks (“ACTION”), and Minwaashin Lodge’s Provincial Anti-Human Trafficking Team.
- Meaningful initiatives must also target regional trafficking corridors across neighbouring communities. Therefore, ORCC is collaborating with regional partners in Eastern Ontario to facilitate knowledge exchange and the creation of resources that will strengthen our collective capacity to fight human trafficking.
At every step, ORCC is working to fight inequality, decrease the vulnerability of survivors and marginalized groups to the tactics employed by traffickers, and support front-line workers with the information, tools and knowledge they need to recognize exploitation. ORCC is committed to working together with stakeholders on evidence-based strategies against human trafficking as long as it persists in our communities.
Please join us in these efforts:
- If you are a front-line mental health and addictions service provider, you can take this free online course about how to identify and support people who have been or are being trafficked.
- If you are a community member who wants to learn more, look into Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline: What is Human Trafficking?, Safe Passage: An Anti-Trafficking Toolkit, Ontario Native Women’s Association Learning Resources and Concern is Not Enough (CCEHT).
- Talk to the kids in your life about human trafficking and watch for signs of trafficking. The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking has tips that can help.
- If you suspect that someone you know is being trafficked, contact the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-833-900-1010 or make an online report. You can do this anonymously.
Resources and supports for people who are being or have been trafficked:
- Minwaashin Lodge provides culturally appropriate support to Indigenous survivors through its crisis line at (613) 789-1141.
- The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking provides crisis support and referrals upon request to social service agencies and law enforcement through its national hotline (1-833-900-1010).
- Help is also available 24/7/365 through ORCC’s crisis line (613-562-2333).