Issue 2: The Issue - Human Trafficking

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Human trafficking is a serious human rights violation and a clandestine crime. It is perpetrated primarily against women and children, occurs at the international and Canadian level, and involves the recruitment, transportation or harbouring of persons for the purpose of exploitation. The consequences of this gendered violence are devastating.

Complex intersecting factors create vulnerabilities to being trafficked and contribute to the positioning of perpetrators to coerce, exploit and harm vulnerable persons. For example, a woman’s race, socioeconomic status, age, or status in Canada affects her risk for being targeted by traffickers, as well as limits the resources accessible to her in escaping trafficking. Some of the factors that make someone more vulnerable are social (e.g., gender inequality, history of colonial exploitation, poverty, lack of access to education, restrictive immigration policies resulting in forced migration), economic (e.g., supply and demand for labour in many sectors, low risk – high reward for perpetrators), and political in nature (e.g., wars and other situations resulting in displaced persons/refugees). Results include increased economic vulnerability, isolation and forced displacement, all of which contribute to the push and pull factors underpinning human trafficking.

The present stage of its recognition and intervention emphasize the need for relevant information and resources for community stake- holders working to prevent human trafficking, to protect those affected, and to hold perpetrators accountable.

A newsletter cannot do justice to the complexity and layered dimensions of this issue. However, we highlight accessible, current information and diverse perspectives on human trafficking and link you to more in depth discussions and materials. You will find descriptions of and links to definitions, perspectives of women with lived experience, recent developments, available resources (online training, training manuals, books, videos, articles), campaigns, and promising practices.

Note: Throughout the newsletter the term survivor, women with lived experience, and victim are used interchangeably to reflect the terminology in the materials being highlighted.

Domestic versus international

International Trafficking

  • Occurs when a trafficker transports the citizen of one country into another country for the purpose of exploitation.
  • Persons may enter the country clandestinely or through the use of fraudulent documents.
  • Persons may also enter the country with valid documents and not know that the job they are coming into Canada for is actually not present.

Domestic Trafficking

  • Occurs when the entirety of the crime occurs within a country’s borders, and no international boundary is crossed.
  • The trafficked person may be a citizen, permanent resident, a visitor, a temporary worker or a student – as long as all the elements occur within the same country.

Source: B.C. Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons. (2011),

Challenging Misconceptions

In Invisible Chains (2010, p. 63- 66), Benjamin Perrin lists 10 myths and realities about human trafficking highlighted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Some are:

Myth:     Canadian citizens cannot be trafficked.
Reality:   Victims include Canadians as well as foreign nationals.

Myth:     The individual was paid for services.
Reality:   Many trafficking victims never keep any of the money paid for their exploitation; traffickers may provide others with small amounts of money to keep them compliant but not allow them to leave.

Myth:     The individual had freedom of movement and so is not a trafficking victim.
Reality:   Some traffickers forcibly confine their victims; many more control them using threats, psychological coercion, and manipulation.  In many cases, traffickers are also able to make credible threats against the family members of the victim. Physical violence used against victims can easily convince them that these threats are serious.

Myth:     It can’t be trafficking if the trafficker and victim are related or married.
Reality:   Being married or related does not give someone the right to victimize another. Some victims have agreed to marry their exploiters in the false hope of lessening or ending their abuse.


Human Trafficking Differs from Smuggling

Human Smuggling

  • Always involves a person illegally crossing over an international border.
  • Is voluntary – the person involved chooses to be smuggled and has made an agreement to pay another person or group of people to commit a crime.
  • Ends when the smuggler gets the smuggled person over the border.

Human Trafficking

  • May involve movement, inside the person’s own country or across an international border.
  • Is not voluntary – the person has not chosen to be exploited.
  • Does not end when the trafficked person arrives at a destination, but rather continues while the person is exploited for labour or services.

Learn more from the BC Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons. (2011):

Potential Consequences of Trafficking for Women and Girls

  • Physical (e.g., headaches; exhaustion; malnutrition; illness; broken bones; dizziness; burns; wounds; dehydration; long-term disability)
  • Sexual (e.g., unwanted pregnancies; miscarriages; sexually transmitted infections; infertility; pelvic inflammatory disease; abdominal pain; unsafe abortions)
  • Emotional (e.g., posttraumatic stress disorder; panic attacks; depression; low self-esteem; hostility; shame; flashbacks; fear and insecurity; nightmares; memory lapses)
  • Behavioural (e.g., suicidal ideation and/or attempts; self-harm; eating disorders; drug and/or alcohol addiction)
  • Social (e.g., stigma; economic deprivation; isolation; loneliness; estrangement from family, friends, culture)

Prostitution versus Human Trafficking

Prostitution involves the person making a “choice” of going into the sex trade -- choosing to engage in sex work for pay or profit. However, some women who live in extreme poverty or other vulnerable circumstances feel that they do not have another option for making money.

People who are coerced or forced to provide any form of service or labour are victims of the organized crime of human trafficking. This applies to all forms of exploitative labour situations including domestic or seasonal farm workers, as well as sex work. A trafficking offence does not require direct exploitation, but could include coercion to induce an offer of service.  Learn more about the Anti-Slavery Bill being made into Law.

This distinction is based on reviewed resources and communications to the Learning Network team. 

Scope and Extent

The extent of human trafficking is not known for many reasons, including the barriers that prevent or make it difficult for victims/ survivors to reveal their experience, the clandestine nature of human trafficking, efforts by traffickers to prevent detection, the limitations of data collection, and the lack of awareness and knowledge about this problem.

Initiatives to further data collection and an increased understanding of the nature and scope of human trafficking in Canada include:

  • Ontario Coalition Research Initiative undertakes data collection of Human Trafficking

“Ontario is home to the majority of foreign trafficking victims recognized by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and is the province where the most human trafficking prosecutions in Canada have occurred.  In spite of this, there is a crucial lack of data on human trafficking beyond anecdotal stories. To make systemic changes that can remove victims from these abusive situations, we need a stronger knowledge of the nature of human trafficking within Ontario, who these victims are, and the gaps and needs in services available to them. The Ontario Coalition Research Initiative led by The Alliance Against Modern Slavery will use data collection and case study analysis to better understand the needs of human trafficking survivors within Ontario, and the challenges that exist for organizations providing services to them, which include, but are not limited to the following: differences in jurisdiction; language barriers; housing services available and utilized; risks that exist for families of victims; aftercare available for victims -- including skill training, counselling, and treatment for PTSD; rights awareness; and, differences in victim demographics, including gender analysis.”

Karlee Sapoznik, President, CEO, Co-Founder, Alliance Against Modern Slavery

  • Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics explores a national data collection framework to measure trafficking in persons
    Towards the Development of a National Data Collection Framework to Measure Trafficking in Persons examines the feasibility of a national data collection framework. Consultations were undertaken with key stakeholders from provincial and federal government departments, the police community, non-government organizations and academics. This report identifies a number of data collection and research strategies.

“Due to the clandestine nature of HT and the reluctance of victims/witnesses to come forward, it is difficult to make statements about the extent of Human Trafficking in Canada in relation to the number of victims; however, human trafficking specific convictions and current investigations into human trafficking are proof that this crime is occurring in our country.”

— Cpl. Charlene Rivet, Human Trafficking National Coordination Centre, Correspondence to the Learning Network Team, August 28, 2012

Low Risk – High Reward for Traffickers

  • 12-25 - typical ages of females trafficked for sexual exploitation by organized crime networks in Canada
  • $900 – average daily profit illicitly earned by organized crime networks from 1 female trafficked for sexual exploitation in Canada
  • $5,400 - average weekly profit illicitly earned by organized crime networks from 1 female trafficked for sexual exploitation in Canada
  • $280,000 - average annual profit illicitly earned by organized crime networks from 1 female trafficked for sexual exploitation in Canada
  • $3,276,000 - average annual profit illicitly earned by organized crime networks from 10 female trafficked for sexual exploitation in Canada

Source: Criminal Intelligence Service Canada Strategic Brief, August 2008, Organized Crime and Domestic Trafficking in Persons in Canada, p. 5.

Learn from Women with Lived Experience

Learn from Timea Nagy. A survivor of human trafficking, she is a recognized author, educator, trainer and advocate.  Read her book, Memoirs of a Sex Slave Survivor, in which she describes her journey of being trafficked for sexual exploitation, as well as the personal forgiveness and healing that occurred afterward.  Visit the Walk with Me website by clicking this link:

Listen to her story told in Nobody’s Victim, which aired on CBC’s Metamorphosis, August 27, 2012:

Educational resources available through Walk-With-Me, Victim Services Canada:

  • a toolkit for teachers and youth workers
  • an educational awareness site for kids from 14 – 22 years of age

Services provided by Walk-With-Me, Victim Services Canada:

  • A crisis line for police officers and service providers. Human trafficking survivors and trained frontline victim care workers are available on the phone to provide police and social agencies with appropriate resources, services, and supports to help current victims of trafficking. The crisis line is a Toronto- based number but is used by police and social services across the province. A person is available on the crisis line 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
  • 24/7 mobile victim care service. Survivors and trained frontline victim response workers are available within, and three hours outside, the greater Toronto area. The mobile victim care service picks up victims from police stations and takes them to a safe house. They conduct risk and immediate needs assessments and they provide care for up to 72 hours (e.g., food, clothing, medical check-ups, legal assistance). Victims are also set up with long-term care provisions with partner organizations across the country. 
  • Contact phone number for Walk with Me: 1-647-838-6673

Videos featuring survivors and others

Enslaved and Exploited: The Story of Sex Trafficking in Canada is a 2010 documentary that illustrates the history and current situation of sex trafficking in Canada, including issues around supply/demand, domestic trafficking, the vulnerabilities of Aboriginal women and girls, sex tourism, and the prosecution of traffickers. This 46 minute film was created by Jay and Michelle Brock, a Canadian couple who travelled across the country to profile this issue. The documentary contains testimony from human trafficking survivors, Canadian activists and politicians.  

Avenue Zero is a 2010 documentary on human trafficking in Canada, written and directed by Hélène Choquette. The title refers to the name of the first road in British Columbia as you cross the border from the United States. The film contains candid interviews with victims, perpetrators and witnesses of human trafficking in the Vancouver area and across the country. You can purchase the DVD at the National Film Board of Canada.  

Invisible Slaves is a 2011 documentary on the human trafficking of children and youth in Latin America. The film presents information on what human trafficking involves, methods of coercion, challenges faced in attempting to escape traffickers, and the importance of acting to end human trafficking. Women and men who experienced trafficking during childhood or adolescence share their stories.  (In Spanish with English subtitles).

Recent Developments

Canada announces National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking

On June 6, 2012, the federal government released Canada’s first National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking. The Plan commits $25 million over four years to build on and strengthen Canada’s efforts to prevent, detect and prosecute human trafficking. The announcement included additional funding to assist victims of human trafficking, the creation of an Integrated Law Enforcement Team to combat human trafficking, and a new Human Trafficking Task Force led by Public Safety Canada at the federal level.

Amendments to the Criminal Code regarding human trafficking

Bill C-310, introduced by Manitoba’s MP Joy Smith after numerous recommendations from NGOs and law enforcement agencies, received Royal Assent in June 2012. This means the Criminal Code will be amended to extend extraterritorial jurisdiction of the current human trafficking offences as well as expand the definition of exploitation in the human trafficking offence (i.e., adds an interpretive aid that provides factors of exploitation based on the Palermo Protocol such as: used or threatened to use force or another form of coercion; used deception; or abused a position of trust, power or authority). Learn more:

Changes to the Interim Federal Health Program

On June 30th, 2012, the federal government implemented changes to the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP). Trafficked persons who receive a Temporary Residence Permit (TRP) are granted access to Interim Federal Health Benefits for the duration of their TRP.  Learn more:

Identifying Domestic and International Sex-Trafficking Victims during Human Service Provision

Macy & Graham (2012) conducted a review of available research articles, government reports, reference guides, and documents from not-for-profit and nongovernmental organizations regarding sex trafficking to understand what literature is available to service providers on this topic. Information collected from 20 available documents focused on:

  • strategies for identifying victims of sex trafficking
  • specific screening questions for victim identification
  • interaction and response strategies
  • child/youth specific information

Practice, policy and research implications are provided.

Source: Macy, R.J. & Graham, L.M. (2012) Identifying domestic and international sex-trafficking victims during human service provision. Trauma, Violence & Abuse, 13 (2) 59- 76/.

Jacquie Linder, Clinical Director and founder of the Chrysalis Network – home of the national telephone counselling line for survivors of human trafficking – told the Learning Network:

“In her groundbreaking book, Trauma and Recovery, Judith Herman wrote: “the ordinary response to atrocities is to banish them from consciousness. Certain violations of the social compact are too terrible to utter aloud: this is the meaning of the word unspeakable.” Human trafficking is an unspeakable crime that frequently involves threats, betrayal, coercion, physical abuse, sexual violation, and degradation. In the field of psychological trauma, it is regarded as an extreme form of traumatic stress resulting in severe mental health disorders such as PTSD, depression, anxiety, psychological dissociation and addiction.

Victims of sex trafficking in particular have a range of psychological profiles from survivors of child abuse and/or neglect, to young women with no trauma histories, to women from cultures in which female subservience is the norm. Women with histories of early childhood physical and/ or sexual abuse are at extremely high risk for being trafficked domestically as mental health issues and low self-esteem makes them particularly vulnerable to coercion. Young women with no trauma histories are also at risk of being lured into the sex industry by traffickers who pose as their boyfriends in order to groom them for the business. This grooming process is very similar to the protocol used by child sexual predators to ensnare their victims. Women from cultures where subservience is the norm are vulnerable because their worldview is built on the value of respect for authority. As such, even when they are being abused, deeply ingrained values of obedience mean they are more likely to try and appease their trafficker than attempt to escape the situation.

Shame and isolation are two of the main tools used by human traffickers to control their victims and keep them compliant. The Chrysalis Network operates a 24-7, national telephone counselling line that works to reduce victims’ feelings of shame and isolation and provide them with referrals to local partner organizations that can assist them in exiting their exploitive situations.”  Visit the Chrysalis Anti-Human Trafficking website:

National hotline supports persons who have been trafficked

In 2011, The Chrysalis Network, based in Edmonton, Alberta, launched the first national human and sex trafficking crisis support line that offers free and confidential counselling services to persons who have been trafficked. A trained counsellor is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Over the past year, the support line has received over 250 calls including five from the United States. With the help of volunteer counsellors, the crisis support line is able to offer counselling services in five languages: English, French, Arabic, Punjabi & Singhalese. Phone number: 1-866-528-7109.

Promising Practices

Collaborative community model to be evaluated

Description of photograph: In June 2012, the WSN’s team in the Human Trafficking Program gratefully accepted the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police Victims Assistance Committee Award for improving the level of service provided to victim/survivors of human trafficking.

The Human Trafficking Program of the Women’s Support Network of York Region (WSN) was established in 2011 through funding provided by Status of Women Canada. The program takes a collaborative community approach to addressing trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) within York Region. Informed by women with lived experience, a regional anti-human trafficking committee, and the research, the program provides comprehensive services for survivors of human trafficking, delivered through a collaborative of service providers. The Human Trafficking Program provides outreach and case management services for women and girls who are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation, or at-risk for trafficking. Services are non-judgmental and informed by a feminist, anti-racist/anti-oppression framework. Through the partnerships with the regional committee members, the case manager provides survivors with immediate and ongoing support including, trauma-informed counselling, legal support, and housing assistance. To date, 29 women have received support.

Other activities conducted by the Human Trafficking Program include: raising awareness of the issue; developing tools and resources (e.g., screening tool); facilitating trainings on human trafficking for service providers; creating workshops and materials to increase public awareness; and providing a 24/7 helpline that trafficked women or community members can call for assistance.

An external evaluation of the community collaboration model for addressing human trafficking is underway, with a final report expected in summer 2013. The WSN looks forward to sharing the lessons learned with other communities.

Visit the Women’s Support Network website.

Survivor speaks out about the value of support “The program helped me open my eyes to what I was meant to do.

Without the help of your great staff, I would have never changed my life around. I was happy with all the resources and people I got connected with. WSN was a critical support network in the change I decided to make.”

— Quote from Client, Human Trafficking Program, Women’s Support Network of York Region

“Collaboration is the key to being able to provide the comprehensive level of service and support needed by women who have survived being trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation. It may mean going outside of one’s “regular circles”, but everyone has the same goal - assisting the woman unites all those involved.”

— Quote from Kelly Cameron, Human Trafficking Program Developer, Women’s Support Network of York Region

The Sarnia-Lambton Committee Against Trafficking of Women and Children has developed resource materials for an ongoing public education campaign in their community. In March 2011, the Committee and the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Centre Sarnia-Lambton sponsored a community development forum. Members of various government, justice, health, social service and community groups assembled to develop a community protocol that would guide future collaborative practice. Guiding principles were established and sector supports, services and capacities were identified. Next steps include expanding the work to Aboriginal communities and enhancing the public education campaign through social media. Email:

Gloria Alvernaz Mulcahy, PhD., CPsych. Academic Research Associate, CREVAWC, Southern Ontario representative to Ontario Native Women’s Association, President, Deshkan Ziibi Native Women’s Association makes the following statement:

“The challenges are abundant when dealing with violence against women and it is particularly onerous in recognition of the experiences of Aboriginal women and girls. Aboriginal women and girls in Canada are at a higher risk of being trafficked for the purposes of sex exploitation than other groups of women and girls. The Ontario Native Women’s Association has been diligent in its efforts to better understand the parameters of this issue for our Aboriginal sisters through research and the development of programs that address the needs of vulnerable Aboriginal youth. For example, ONWA is co-Chair of the Aboriginal Women Involved in the Sex Trade committee and recently developed and implemented a Human Trafficking Project which provided drop-in services to Aboriginal women. In addition, outreach services have been offered to Aboriginal women in the sex trade. ONWA representatives are on the Provincial advisory committee on human trafficking. This issue is particularly important in terms of the vulnerability of Aboriginal youth and there is an urgent need to take appropriate action to address these problems.”

Coalition creates a no-wrong-door systemic response to human trafficking

In London and Middlesex County, local efforts to combat trafficking have been headed by the Coalition Against Trafficking in Persons (CATIP). CATIP is comprised of over 20 social service agencies, NGOs, and individuals. Through collaborative community work, CATIP has begun to create a compassionate system of support for trafficked persons and to build aware- ness about the issue and the community capacity to effectively respond.

Through a recent Ontario Trillium Foundation grant, among others, the work of CATIP builds on the highly successful project of the Sisters of St. Joseph. CATIP works to empower trafficked persons and to educate frontline community professionals, including non-traditional service providers like estheticians, taxi drivers and restaurant workers. They learn about the indicators of trafficking, the legal realities, and available community support services.  This will enable service providers to identify trafficked victims, many of whom may not identify as such, and allow them to be better equipped to receive disclosures and to know how to most effectively support victims.

An interactive website is being developed that will highlight  the indicators of trafficking, personal stories and experiences of trafficked persons, legal information, and links to community supports. The goal of CATIP is to create a no-wrong-door systemic response to human trafficking and support an educated and effective collaborative community network.

Addressing human trafficking in Aboriginal communities

“Working with Aboriginal communities on human trafficking prevention programs has been identified as one promising practice to address domestic trafficking of Aboriginal victims. Numerous studies on human trafficking in Canada have identified Aboriginal women and children as the majority of victims that are being sex trafficked in Canada. Given the complex root causes of sex trafficking and exploitation of Aboriginal women and girls, any single anti-trafficking practice would be insufficient on its own. Therefore, a multitude of anti-trafficking practices would be necessary to begin to address the issues in an effective and holistic way.

Several program ideas that either target and address the particular vulnerabilities of Aboriginal communities or provide culturally relevant victims services have proven to be helpful. Other successful ideas include programs aimed at reducing school dropout rates and developing economic opportunities for women to establish economic security in Aboriginal communities; raising public awareness of human trafficking for Aboriginal and government leaders, as well as inform the public; and supporting and strengthening Aboriginal family and community support systems, such as shelters led by survivors, and programs that provide support for Aboriginal women and children to turn to if they have been or are presently being trafficked.”

— Quote from Teresa Edwards, Native Women’s Association of Canada, Communication to the Learning Network Team, September 26, 2012.


Service providers embrace new train- the-trainer manual on Human Trafficking

Breaking the Chains of Human Trafficking - Linking Community Support in Peel is a train-the-trainer manual developed by the Sexual Assault and Rape Crisis Centre Peel. Its creation was informed by surveys and consultations from a wide range of stakeholders. The purpose of the manual is to educate and provide useful tools for professionals and policy makers in the Region of Peel, and to promote a more cohesive response to the needs of trafficked persons, especially sexually exploited diverse women and girls. The training is designed for all who may come into contact with trafficked persons (e.g., workers within the immigrant and refugee sector, social workers, workers within domestic and sexual violence sectors, border guards, health professionals, lawyers, law enforcement agencies, educators, faith leaders).

The content addresses the road to recovery – from victim to survivor.

Features include:

  • An Integrated Anti-Racist Feminist  Framework (IARFF) as the context for understanding and addressing the unique needs of a trafficked victim
  • An overview of what trafficking is, why it exists, and existing legislation and policy
  • Principles to guide the path to recovery
  • An integrated service model (e.g., coordinated continuum of care and case management)
  • A proposed agenda for conducting training sessions and a list of other resources

Over 100 training manuals have been distributed since its release in May 2012. Learn more.

Caring for Trafficked Persons: Guidance for Health Providers

This manual helps to educate healthcare practitioners on recognizing human trafficking victims and providing them with appropriate treatment and support. Many trafficked persons experience illnesses and injuries as a result of the abuse and abhorrent working conditions they are exposed to. Trafficked persons are forced to endure these conditions in isolation with no opportunities to seek help. Contact with a healthcare provider may be the only connection a trafficked person may have to receive support and/or notify authorities of their situation. This resource outlines the special approaches required for diagnosis and treatment of a trafficked person and the role of a healthcare practitioner when a patient is suspected or identified as a victim of trafficking.  Visit the website:

Human Trafficking: Canada is Not Immune

An online training course for service providers

The goal of the training is to help service providers identify, protect, and assist persons who may have been trafficked and to protect and defend an individual’s basic human rights. The course contains four modules: Defining human trafficking; Canada’s response to human trafficking; How to recognize a trafficked person; and, How to help a trafficked person.

Actual situations of human trafficking in Canada bring the curriculum to life. A quiz, with answers provided, lets you test what you have learned. Included is a glossary of words, a list of resources, and a short survey to gather feedback on the course. 

Our Learning Network team completed the training and found it to be interactive and user-friendly. It takes about five to seven hours to complete but you are able to complete it at your own pace. The information is current and provides a national perspective on the issue of human trafficking. Case examples illustrate that each trafficking situation is unique while sharing the common denominator of exploitation. The curriculum provides a list of both Canadian and international resources relevant to a range of service providers. The training course was developed by the British Columbia Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons and Public Safety Canada, in partnership with the Department of Justice. Learn more.

Review of Promising Practices

This 2010 report was prepared for the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Forum of Status of Women Senior Officials. It identifies global promising practices focused on human trafficking prevention and victim support. Gendered Analysis of Human Trafficking

Read the Springtide Resources’ Fall 2008 Newsletter on Human Trafficking. Articles reflect various perspectives and include discussions on myths, vulnerabilities during migration, and legal and rights based issues.  

Polaris Project

The United States National Resource Centre on Trafficking in Persons is the Polaris Project. Its website has extensive information, tools, and online training resources for survivors and service providers (e.g., educators, health providers, law enforcement professionals). Some of the resources are listed below:

  • Comprehensive Human Trafficking Assessment
  • Trafficking in Persons Power and Control Wheel
  • Treating the Hidden Wounds: Trauma Treatment and Mental Health Recovery for Victims of Human Trafficking
  • Finding a Path to Recovery (information about victims of domestic sex trafficking who are minors)
  • A Fact Sheet for Schools
  • Intersection of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking

Learn More

Trafficking for Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Aboriginal Girls in Canada

Anupriya Sethi summarizes key issues and policy implications regarding Aboriginal girls within the sex trafficking industry in Canada, as identified by grass roots agencies that work directly with victims. The lived experiences of Aboriginal women and girls make them more vulnerable to sexual exploitation and thus over represented in the sex trafficking industry. This paper provides an overview of domestic sex trafficking of Aboriginal girls including the scope and pattern of trafficking, recruitment methods, potential causal factors and/or vulnerabilities (e.g., colonization, residential schools, lack of awareness and acknowledgment, violence, poverty, isolation, racism, substance use, gaps in services), and policy implications.

Anette Sikka’s report on trafficking of Aboriginal women and girls in Canada discusses the impact of historical representations and mainstream media in maintaining myths and stereotypes that Aboriginal women are “prostitutes” and “criminals” rather than “victims of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation.” Sikka illustrates how Aboriginal women and girls have been coerced into the sex trade and how this form of sexual exploitation meets the legal definitions of “trafficking.” Sikka concludes that defining sexual exploitation of Aboriginal women and girls as “sex trafficking” may dispel the myths and stereotypes and lead to more preventative interventions for these women and children.

Social Marketing Campaigns

In April 2012, PACT-Ottawa (Persons Against the Crime of Trafficking in Humans) launched a human trafficking awareness initiative – TruckSTOP Campaign. The purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness about trafficking in persons, specifically amongst the trucking industry and provide education to communities across the province with the overall goal of reaching national and international audiences.

The TruckSTOP campaign targets the transport industry with the belief that truck drivers may travel the same routes as traffickers and may witness suspicious activities. The campaign provides drivers and truck stop visitors with information on how to identify trafficking and what to do when they suspect trafficking is occurring. Information is provided on posters, beverage coasters, podcasts, audio CD’s and radio productions. Materials are available free of charge. 

“Transportation is a key element of human trafficking. Traffickers move their victims frequently, to isolate them and to avoid detection. They travel the same roads and highways that truck drivers do. PACT-Ottawa believes that truck drivers are in a good position to help stop human trafficking and we are giving them the tools to join the fight. We have received positive feedback on the campaign in Ontario, and are hoping that we will be able to distribute Truck- STOP materials across the country in the near future.”

— Quote from Kim Howson, Project Coordinator for the TruckSTOP Campaign at PACT

A global campaign to end human trafficking and modern day slavery.

The campaign increases awareness and knowledge about human trafficking through a variety of materials available from their website: a student abolitionist handbook which helps students get the movement started in their schools; educational course curriculums for churches, colleges, and high schools; testimonials and information from survivors and activists; a slavery map which allows website visitors to document cases of known human trafficking around the world; information on events that are occurring across the globe; and other helpful resources.

The Not For Sale organization also helps businesses, governments and grassroots agencies to create and sustain social enterprises that benefit victims and communities that are vulnerable to trafficking. The three-staged process includes Stability & Safety, Life Skills & Job Training; and Dignified Work and Sustainable Future.  Click the following link to access the Not For Sale website:

In 2010, the Government of Canada, in partnership with the Canadian Crime Stoppers Association (CCSA), launched a public awareness campaign on human trafficking called Blue Blindfold – Open Your Eyes to Human Trafficking. The campaign was adopted from Britain’s campaign ( which was launched in 2007. The goals of the campaign are to raise awareness among Canadians about the issue of human trafficking and inform the public on how to identify and report potential trafficking cases. The campaign includes brochures, posters and a short video.

Updates from the field

Three Members of the Learning Network Resource Group Receive Diamond Jubliee Medals

Sly Castaldi, Executive Director Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis.

Mohammed Baobaid, Executive Director, Muslim Resource Centre for Social Support and Integration

Dr. Peter Jaffe, Academic Director, Centre for Research & Education on Violence against Women & Children, Western University

Research shows shelters more than just a bed

Funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, a new study focused on the functions of shelters for abused women, how the facilities are perceived by other social service sectors, factors that influence the delivery of service, and indicators of success. The project team, four shelter directors and four researchers from Western University, released findings at a news conference on August 30, 2012:

  • Shelters provide “more than just a bed.” They offer not only a safe refuge, but time and emotional support for women and their children to come to terms with their situations and begin to heal; including direct material support while in shelter and as they leave shelter.
  • Shelters increase women’s capacity to manage on their own, helping them become organizationally literate. They provide a number of services including education, information and counseling enabling women and their children to deal with the consequences of abuse.

From these findings, the research team has developed an evaluation approach to assist shelters in evaluating their services using tools and approaches that address the complexity of providing shelter services.  Full article here

Funding available for  initiatives to support Ontario’s Sexual Violence Action Plan

Ontario Women’s Directorate invites funding applications for two initiatives that support Ontario’s Sexual Violence Action Plan.

  • Draw-the-Line campaign Phase Two
  • Training on Sexual violence

Applications available through Grants Ontario.

Survivors to educate, mentor and advocate

The Survivor Voices Inclusion Project (SVIP), funded by Status of Women Canada in 2011, was developed to discover creative and meaningful ways of engaging women survivors in the work of shelter and second stage homes designed to help them. To date, the project’s team has travelled to 15 communities across the province.

In each community, survivors, staff and Board members from shelters, second stage housing, and allied organizations, come together to explore survivor inclusion, barriers, and how to creatively work together to find solutions.

Key preliminary findings:  Survivors want to be involved in the education of teachers, youth, police and other community organizations and professionals; mentor other survivors coming through the system; address barriers; and be advocates for social change.

A number of survivors stepped forward to join the newly formed OAITH Ontario Survivors’ Advisory Committee (OSAC).

OAITH changed its constitution so that the two co-chairs of OSAC could fully participate on OATIH’s Board of Directors. OSAC is developing an engaging Photo Voices project for survivors to submit photographs that are symbolic of their experiences.

OAITH’s Creating Inclusive Spaces was chosen by the Canadian Network of Shelters & Transition Houses as a best practice and is being piloted in14 shelters across the country.  OAITH website:

From the Learning Network

Now Available

Sexual Violence Resource Document
We reviewed and synthesized literature on sexual violence in, Overcoming Barriers and Enhancing Supportive Responses: The Research on Sexual Violence Against Women. Its purpose is to support the development of introductory training for responding to survivors of sexual violence.  Sections are included on the roots of sexual violence, consent, methods of coercion, relevant statistics, rape myths, consequences experienced by survivors, barriers to disclosure and resources, and safe and supportive responses. (Available in French: Surmonter les obstacles et améliorer le soutien : Recherche sur la violence à caractère sexuel faite aux femmes).

Literature review and primer on evaluating VAW training initiatives
The report briefly describes the purpose of evaluations followed by the review of current evaluation literature on the effectiveness of VAW training initiatives. The report outlines the types and levels of evaluation, the importance of logic models -- including examples and guides on developing them, common evaluation challenges, and critical steps to consider when conducting an evaluation of VAW training programs.

Our inaugural e-newsletter
Our goal is to present timely and relevant information on VAW issues, to provide information on education/training related to VAW issues, and to profile various initiatives of VAW stakeholders.

Next issue

Children Exposed to Domestic Violence – December 2012