Human Trafficking Awareness Day: What You Need to Know

#KnowHumanTrafficking February 22 Ontario's Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Written by Katie Sills, Manager, Student Rights & Responsibilities 

February 22 is Human Trafficking Awareness Day, and according to the Government of Ontario, is one of the fastest-growing crimes worldwide. In our own communities, the 401 corridor is known as a conduit to transport people between Toronto and Montreal; in Canada, over half of reported cases of human trafficking incidents occur in Ontario.

Human Trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, harbouring and/or exercising control, direction or influence over the movements of a person, to exploit them or to assist in facilitating their exploitation (National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking, 2012). Human trafficking can take many forms, including sex trafficking, labour trafficking, and domestic servitude.

As of 2020, Statistics Canada reported that:  

  • 3,541 incidents of human trafficking have been reported to police services in Canada between 2011-2021. 
  • 83% of incidents of human trafficking were reported in census metropolitan areas 
  • 96% of victims of police-reported human trafficking were women and girls. 
  • 81% of persons accused of human trafficking were men. 
  • 24% of victims of police-reported human trafficking were aged 17 and younger, 45% between 18-24, and 21% between 25-34. 

Anyone can be at risk of being trafficked and a person can be trafficked anywhere, even in their home community. However, risk of human trafficking is increased for individuals with additional targeted factors, which are often identified and exploited by traffickers to gain control over another person. These factors include but are not limited to race, gender, ability, immigration status, age and sexuality and their intersections. It is possible that people who are being trafficked, and the people around them, may not realize that trafficking is happening. Traffickers control and manipulate victims using tactics such as emotional abuse, lies, additions, violence, etc.   

Signs that someone may be being trafficked include but are not limited to:  

  • Repeatedly missing from home or school 
  • Not allowed to speak for themselves and their activities are controlled by someone else 
  • Withdrawing from family and friends; having a new partner that they do not want to introduce to others  
  • Wearing different clothing; having access to clothing they would not normally wear or can’t afford to buy  
  • Suddenly having a new or second cell phone number  
  • Don’t have their own belongings or money; no control of passport or other documents.  

The Government of Canada has enacted immigration and criminal law that prohibits human trafficking. In Ontario, this is an anti-human trafficking strategy which is subject to review every five years as per the Combatting Human Trafficking Act, 2021. 

For more information about Human Trafficking and resources, please see the links below: 

Campus Support 

  • SLC Student Rights and Responsibilities Office (tri-campus)
  • SLC Student Wellness and Accessibility (tri-campus)
  • Belonging, Human Resources and Organizational Development (tri-campus)

Community Support 

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