In support of Human Trafficking Awareness Day Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services (OAHS) is working with partners across the province to raise awareness of human trafficking in Ontario communities.
“It’s crucial to learn the risk factors and signs of human trafficking,” says Justin Marchand, “few people know how prevalent it really is in Ontario.”
Contrary to popular belief, human trafficking doesn’t only happen to people from other countries, and it doesn’t necessarily involve movement across international borders. According to police data, most of the people trafficked in Ontario are sexually exploited girls and women who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents. They are often recruited and sometimes even trafficked right in their own community. Indigenous girls and women are at higher risks of becoming victims of human trafficking due to the negative socio-economic factors facing Indigenous people across the country.
Ontario is not immune to this deplorable crime. “Kids are often targeted by human traffickers online who look for signs of vulnerability,” says Marchand. “they try to create a bond with someone, and then use tactics like threats, emotional abuse, drugs and violence to force them to perform labour or sex acts.”
OAHS works with a range of community partners to prevent trafficking and to support survivors along their healing journeys. Across Ontario, OAHS delivers various programs to assist people transition out of vulnerable situations, such as homelessness and living in overcrowded housing, that are risk factors for human trafficking.
No one person can take on this complex problem alone. As a community, it’s important that we learn about the signs, risk factors and how to get help. This information is available at Ontario.ca/HumanTrafficking. You can also join the conversation online with the hashtag #KnowHumanTrafficking.
If you or someone you know may need help, Ontario has a dedicated 24/7 Human Trafficking Helpline that can direct callers to services in or near their community. The number is 1-833-999-9211, TTY 1-888-340-1001.