A Canadian's Guide to Advocacy
I’m a proud Canadian. I know my country is not perfect, but I truly am thankful for this place I call home. I love Canada’s mountains, prairies, and beaches. I love that many Canadians speak English and French. I love how multicultural Canada is. I love how beautifully Canada wears all four seasons (okay, I’m not that big of a fan of the winter part). I love that we are known to be polite and welcoming people. I love our access to healthcare and education. I love our diversity, and the fact that most of our grandparents are from elsewhere and are Canadians by choice. I love our music, festivals,and maple syrup. I love that Canadians are free to express their political and social concerns without fear of reprisal.
As a Canadian who loves her country, it upsets me deeply to hear of the shocking levels of human trafficking in Canada. Unfortunately, the underground nature of trafficking means there is limited data about the prevalence of this crime within Canadian borders. However, Canada’s federal law enforcement force, the RCMP, has identified 401in-border cases of human trafficking since 2005. Some of these cases involve hundreds of victims. Many cases remain undetected, due to the reluctance of victims to come forward, the difficulty to identify those trapped in trafficking situations, the challenge of determining when a voluntary industry becomes exploitative, and the concealment tactics of traffickers.
Canada’s federal law enforcement force, the RCMP, has identified 401 in-border cases of human trafficking since 2005. Some of these cases involve hundreds of victims.
Trafficking is a sophisticated, organized crime which requires coordinated solutions. Human trafficking is a criminal offence under The Criminal Code of Canada and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Both documents stipulate extensive legislation used to hold traffickers accountable for their crime.
In 2012, the government of Canada’s Human Trafficking Task Force established a National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking. The plan involved a variety of anti-trafficking initiatives aimed at prevention, protection, prosecution and partnerships. However, the national action plan expired in 2016. Canada currently has no plan of response or annual report on progress pertaining to human trafficking.
There is, however, much hope for the future of anti-trafficking efforts in Canada. This is in large part due to the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking (CCTEHT), a non-profit organization whose mission is “[…] to mobilize collective action and system change to end human trafficking in Canada.” Through its research and programs, CCTEHT has become the national “backbone” tackling this issue.
How then, can Canadian citizens get involved in advocacy to end modern-day slavery? CCTEHT and other stakeholders explain that advocates can get involved in the Canadian anti-trafficking movement in many ways. Here are a few:
Knowledge is power. Learning about trafficking, its indicators and the ways by which traffickers lure victims is a crucial step to advocacy. Sharing this information with others will increase the army of Canadian advocates and prevent others from being coerced and exploited. Start conversations about the objectification of female bodies, the normalization of women’s exploitation in the workplace and the role of porn in the demand for human trafficking.
Lobby for a new national action plan.
As discussed, the Canadian anti-trafficking action plan expired in 2016. Writing letters, joining rallies and signing petitions to see a rigid legislative framework created to combat trafficking in Canada.
Support ethical business practices
Many Canadian businesses, such as WE3, Thieves Boutique, and OÖM produce goods and services that are sweatshop free and seek supply chain transparency. Encourage their sustainable, holistic approach by choosing their products over companies that enslave workers!
Challenge and help leaders.
Contact representatives on the local, provincial and federal level. Find out what your local Member of Parliament is doing to address human trafficking. Ask them how you can support their efforts.
Call and report.
If you suspect a case of trafficking, call the police or sexual assault line. The CCTEHT provides a list of relevant numbers for reports and information HERE.
In the Fall of 2018, CCTEHT will be launching the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline. This Canada-wide 24/7 hotline will provide crisis response and social service referrals to victims of trafficking, reporting services and information about trafficking. Stay tuned.
Volunteer and donate.
Donate your time and money to the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking, or other national organizations that are dedicated to the fight to end trafficking. Some include: Free Them, Defend Dignity, Hope Restored, Chab Dai Canada and CHILL.
Your participation matters in the fight to restore freedom and dignity to those affected by human trafficking in Canada. Nothing makes me a prouder Canadian than to see us come together, from coast to coast, to advocate for what is right and just. Together, let’s make our home and native land a safer and greater place for all.
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About the Author
Jess, a proud Montrealer, is an International Development major at McGill University, minoring in Communications and World Religions. You can find her reading a book in a coffee shop, planning a trip to a new city or laughing with her loved ones. Her passion for social justice issues has inspired her work in nonprofit organizations both at home and in the developing world.