Human trafficking is an issue facing many communities, but it’s an issue that can be misunderstood in both how it happens, and how people can recover from it. So it’s a good thing that Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis are holding an information event later this month to raise awareness about the impacts of human trafficking, and what actions that people can take to stop the exploitation and support survivors.
The virtual event takes place on Tuesday February 22 at 6 pm, and it will feature “community panellists sharing their expertise and perspectives on the individual and systemic impacts of human trafficking.” Among the speakers are Kween of the Kween Company, Meaghan Duckett of This Space Belongs to You, Tamie Coleman Dell of the Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre, and Lavender, a trafficking survivor and advocate.
“It is estimated that 67 per cent of police-reported human trafficking happens in Ontario. While we may not want to think it’s happening here, the reality is that it’s impacting our community in Guelph-Wellington,” said Jensen Williams, Public Educator of Women in Crisis.
“Our goal of hosting this event on Human Trafficking Awareness Day is to empower community members with the knowledge and tools to be able to take action to prevent trafficking. The more we collectively know about this issue, the better equipped we are to be able to do something about it.”
You can register for the event by clicking here. Space is limited.
Last month, the Government of Ontario announced that they are spending $1.7 million over two years through the Safer and Vital Communities Grant Program, which helps raise awareness about cyber crimes including hate crimes, fraud, and human trafficking. The money will go to community initiatives like education and awareness campaigns, youth prevention strategies, and online training resources. Applicants to the program have to partner with local police and another community organization.
The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking is also looking to mark National Human Trafficking Awareness Day by making the promotion of healthy relationships a theme. According to the centre, just over half of all Canadians are unaware that sex trafficking victims are often lured by someone they know, which is why it’s key for all people to understand what a healthy relationship looks like, and, reversely, what it looks like when you’re in a toxic relationship.
“Fostering healthy relationships is at the heart of ending human trafficking, and sadly, many people, particularly young people, don’t know what a healthy relationship looks like,” said the Centre’s executive director Julia Drydyk in a statement. “It may seem basic, but they need to understand that those who truly care about them will not place them in unsafe situations and that love shouldn’t come at a cost.”
5 Signs of a Healthy Relationship:
- Respect – for all parties in the relationship and for personal boundaries
- Consent – all involved are fully aware and agreeable to all aspects of the relationship
- Good Communication – all have the liberty to openly discuss their thoughts, ideas and feelings; the flexibility to change their mind when desired; and the capability to resolve conflicts in a positive manner
- Supportive – no one is undermined or taken advantage of, but instead all are supported unconditionally
- Freedom – all have the freedom to be who they are, to have their own interests and friends, and to make their own choices
5 Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship:
- Feeling Pressured – experiencing the need to do something they don’t want to do, especially in relation to sexual pursuits
- Being Threatened – either while in the relationship or when trying to end the relationship
- Violence – whether real or perceived, no one should be afraid of someone they love, or who loves them
- Isolation – being cut off from family and friends; being forced to spend all their time with a new romantic interest or friends
- Loss of Control – when someone tries to control all aspects of another’s life i.e. friends, activities, cell phone and social accounts
Potential Signs of Sex Trafficking to Watch For:
- Sudden Change in Behaviour – acts in a fearful, anxious, submissive or nervous manner; is excessively concerned about displeasing a partner; appears to be controlled by someone else; is becoming isolated from friends and family; rarely responds to phone calls
- Appearance Seems Out of Place – is dressed inappropriately for their age; has cuts or bruises; is branded/tattooed
- Strange Possessions – has unexplained expensive gifts, multiple cell phones, no access to identification, excess cash; lives outside financial means
If you suspect that someone you know is being exploited, you can call the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-833-900-1010 or you can connect online.