National Human Trafficking Awareness Day — Part 2

National Human Trafficking Awareness Day — Part 2

February 22nd has been designated in Canada as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Its purpose is to raise awareness and to take steps to combat human trafficking.

Leading up to this day, we will be sharing information to help raise awareness of this somewhat invisible crime in Canada.

Last week, we discussed what human trafficking is and about the two prominent types in Canada.

This week, we are going to view problems as opportunities and how you can remove barriers and support youth using the “no wrong door” approach.

Viewing Problems as Opportunities — No Wrong Door

Kathleen, Program Innovation Manager at CHV, explains the concept of no wrong door:

“I think that there’s a lot of focus on ‘What is the problem?’ but from our experience, it’s also ‘What is the opportunity?’ What we found is that any service, whether it’s healthcare, housing, schools, etc., anywhere that you’re interacting with youth is an opportunity to prevent, intervene, and then support folks in exiting trafficking.

What we’ve found is that these opportunities exist in what we have to offer at CHV. It’s things like life skills, it’s immediate needs of food and shelter, it’s counselling and case management. We did a lot of research and saw that what we already offer is what youth need. So, it wasn’t a thing of let’s create something new, but instead, how do we really galvanize the folks that are already holding those spaces? So, we started to do that with training for our staff. What the toolkit* is designed for is for any other organization to hold that space as well.

All resources should realistically be anti-trafficking resources, because for a lot of youth to access an anti-trafficking resource means that they have to say, ‘I’ve been trafficked.’ It means for them having to say, ‘The person who said that they love me was lying to me. That job that I was doing wasn’t legitimate.’ And there’s a lot of internal stigma behind that. So, to make resources universal we use the no wrong door approach, which means that youth don’t have to meet that threshold of saying that they’ve been trafficked, to get support, which enables them to get supports far earlier.”

To sum up the approach, Kathleen said, “Trafficking, by definition, takes away the autonomy of young people; it takes away their space and right to choose. As a service provider, we need to do the opposite at every step of the way, to make sure that there is that space for folks to choose and even choose how they identify with this experience.”

*Pivoting Practice: Building Capacity to Serve Youth Impacted by Trafficking was developed as an anti-human trafficking toolkit to support CHV staff and partner organizations in serving youth at risk of, currently experiencing, or those who have survived human trafficking and/or exploitation. This project has been funded by Women and Gender Equality Canada

Knowledge, Advocacy, Prevention, and Support — All Begin by Talking About It

Kathleen explains: “One of the biggest things is to frankly talk about it, and to talk about it in the correct way because I think oftentimes people think, ‘I need to talk about my kids about stranger danger.’ But more often than not, traffickers are known. We know that there’s familial trafficking, so people can be trafficked by their own family. And oftentimes there will be ‘Romeo’ pimps who pose as love interests. Talking about healthy and unhealthy relationships is crucial.

When we look at statistics, especially for young men, there is trafficking in the queer community, and we have to think. ‘Why?’ And a big reason for this is because we aren’t talking about healthy relationships that don’t fit into that heteronormative box. And so, we need to talk about trafficking that includes the whole spectrum.

We also need to talk about labour trafficking as well as sex trafficking, and to make sure that people know what their rights are and what their rights are in the workplace. A lot of labour trafficking is international, so we also need to make sure that we know what the pathways to access justice are. The reason is because some folks are really concerned to reach out if they’ve been trafficked because their trafficker says to them, ‘If you rat me out, then you’re getting deported,’ which is not the truth. We have something called the temporary resident permit that’s specific for people who have been trafficked.

I think the biggest thing is to talk to everyone about healthy relationships.”

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