Most people have heard of human trafficking – which is often described as modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act – but did you know it can happen in your own backyard?
The Health, Opportunities, and Preventing Exploitation Alliance, an outreach committee comprised of 40 agencies around the community, hosted a BBQ Wednesday afternoon at the Neighbourhood Resource Centre as part of a province-wide Anti-Human Trafficking Awareness campaign launch.
“The Anti-Human Trafficking Awareness Campaign is being launched all over the province within 20 coalitions that are recognized by the Provincial Anti-Human Trafficking Office,” explained H.O.P.E. Alliance co-chair Taylar Piazza. “We’re one of those coalitions. So, you’ll see H.O.P.E. Alliance campaign information throughout the city – right now we have a billboard on Albert St.”
Piazza said the purpose of the campaign is to make the community aware that human trafficking does happen here.
“It’s something that often goes unnoticed, but it’s prevalent in the Sault and it’s important for people to know that it does happen and where you can go to get assistance.”
She said it’s important to raise awareness around this sensitive subject because human trafficking is essentially forced labour.
“People who are being forced – either into the labour industry or the sex trade – it’s something that they don’t want to do and they need help getting out.”
That’s what H.O.P.E Alliance is striving to do.
“In that event, that’s something where we can step in and provide that assistance through advocacy, and hopefully through providing education to the community that it is here, and maybe education to workers to help them do more trauma-informed practices with people who might be victims of this, Piazza said. “It’s very sensitive information and very sensitive to exit (the situation) as well, so just being aware of it and being aware that it happens in some place small like the Sault is important for people to know.”
The campaign will run province-wide from May 23 until July 31.