In Dawson College’s Peace Garden on Wednesday, Sept. 18, a demonstration against human trafficking was held by the Dawson Womens’ Services & Advocacy Centre, The HIVE. The Freedom Relay is an annual event that takes place across Canada.
Organizers of this event were inspired by the fact that so few people are aware of what human trafficking is and that it occurs inside our borders. The event at Dawson featured live music and speakers who talked about their experiences and knowledge of human trafficking.
According to The Comité d’Action contre la Traite Humaine Interne et Internationale, (CATHII) the definition of human trafficking is “The exploitation of people, i.e. Sexual exploitation through prostitution, forced labour, and other forms of modern slavery.”
There is a common belief that most human trafficking occurs in other countries, mostly developing countries, and that it is not a reality within Canada. However, the Freedom Relay is held to inform society of the human trafficking which takes place in North America.
“Once people know that [human trafficking] is happening in Canada, they can recognize it and denounce it. That is our goal here,” said Sabrina Tremblay-Huet, an organizer of the March, studying international law at the Université du Québec à Montréal.
According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, the trafficking of women and girls in Canada, though illegal, still occurs often to women who have already been demeaned: Aboriginal women, abuse survivors, young girls or immigrant women. One of the most horrifying aspects about human trafficking is that higher prices are paid for younger girls. The average age of girls being trafficked is 13 years old.
“There is trafficking in every country in the world,” said Catherine Legault, also an organizer. Legault is the executive director of Chab Dai Canada, an organization that works to prevent human trafficking. “In Montreal, the police are investigating over 150 cases of children in prostitution every year.”
What can be done about a phenomenon that takes place worldwide? “The best way to help with any human rights issue is stay informed and learn as much about it as possible,” said Tremblay-Huet.
If you suspect that you know someone that is being exploited, call Crime Stoppers: 1-800-222-8477. For more information on human trafficking in Canada in French visit cathii.org or in English canadianwomen.org/trafficking.