2016 National Forum on Human Trafficking - Summary Report
- Executive Summary
- Event Format
- Plenary 1: Panel Discussion on Emerging Trends / Modalities in Trafficking in Canada
- Participant Discussion on 1st Panel
- Plenary 2: Panel Discussion on Gaps in Mainstream Anti-Trafficking Efforts & Promising Practices to Address those Gaps
- Julie Kaye, Beyond Good Intentions – Anti-Trafficking and the Reproduction of Harm in Canada
- Discussion from Tables
- World Café
- Participant Feedback on the Forum
- Visioning Activity: What’s different in 5 years?
- Annex A: Optional Working Lunch: Government of Ontario Upcoming Provincial Strategy
The National Forum on Human Trafficking was a two day event co-hosted by Public Safety Canada and the Canadian Women’s Foundation. The Forum on Human Trafficking brought together stakeholders with very different perspectives including those who have experienced trafficking, Indigenous women, law enforcement, government, service providers, and sex workers. The format for the National Forum on Human Trafficking consisted of two stages: the first day of the Forum was primarily information sharing and listening to participants. The second day of the Forum was about promoting dialogue and working in collaboration.
The National Forum on Human Trafficking included individual presentations, panels, workshops and roundtable discussions. The subject matter of these forums included:
- Improving access to justice for trafficked persons;
- Addressing unintended harms of anti-trafficking initiatives;
- Involving survivors in anti-trafficking responses;
- Increasing collaboration among organizations involved in frontline responses;
- Improving housing models for trafficked individuals;
- Examining the root causes of trafficking;
- Exploring basic principles that should inform anti-trafficking policies;
- Improving frontline responses to human trafficking; and
- Creating innovative responses to the issue of human trafficking.
Some presentations and discussions during the National Forum on Human Trafficking highlighted the variety of perspectives on human trafficking and generated debate and discussion among participants. At the same time, it became evident that there are many topics that most participants agree on. Some examples include:
- Individuals should be able to access assistance and support without fear of Canadian Border Services involvement in their cases, deportation, or detention;
- More prevention measures are needed including early education on healthy relationships and consent;
- Peer-led outreach programs are better able to connect with people who may have experienced trafficking;
- Programs should be flexible and able to reflect specific cultural and geographic contexts; and
- Frontline responses should be collaborative and services should be inclusive.
The National Forum on Human Trafficking (the Forum) was a two day event co-hosted by Public Safety Canada and the Canadian Women’s Foundation. The Forum brought together stakeholders with different perspectives including those who have experienced trafficking, Indigenous women, members of law enforcement, government, service providers, and sex workers.
Canada’s National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking was established in June 2012 as a four year plan designed to consolidate the efforts of the Federal Government to combat human trafficking. Public Safety Canada oversees the implementation of the Action Plan and has engaged relevant stakeholders annually over the last four years. The four pillars of the National Action Plan are to strengthen prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnership within human trafficking initiatives.
The Canadian Women’s Foundation began working on anti-trafficking efforts in 2012 with the establishment of its National Taskforce on Sex Trafficking of Women and Girls in Canada. The Taskforce consisted of 24 experts from across Canada that represented many stakeholders in anti-trafficking initiatives. The Taskforce held consultations with various stakeholders across the country, culminating in a Final Report released in May 2014 and the formulation of a five year strategy for the Canadian Women’s Foundation to work on specific recommendations from the Taskforce Report. The centerpiece of the Canadian Women’s Foundation’s strategy is to provide multi-year funding to organizations leading anti-trafficking efforts through service provision and collective responses at the community level.
Building upon previous consultations, the objectives of this meeting were to:
- Encourage participation of trafficked persons and those who are marginalized by and in mainstream anti-trafficking efforts;
- Identify actionable improvements in frontline response mechanisms;
- Envision next steps for the National Action Plan and for the broader work in the field;
- Bring attention to the trends and gaps raised during previous consultations in 2015;
- Build on national efforts to combat this crime; and
- Hear from experts and engage in education and awareness-raising about emerging issues including trafficking for labour, forced marriage and trafficking of missing or murdered Indigenous women.
The Forum represented a great achievement in anti-trafficking efforts. It brought together a wide range of stakeholders including people who have experienced trafficking, Indigenous women, members of law enforcement, government, service providers, and sex workers. As human trafficking originates in the intersection of socio-structural factors, including poverty, sexism/gender stereotyping, racism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression, it was important that the Forum have representatives present from each sector.
“If you want to walk fast, walk alone. If you want to walk far, walk with others.”
-Sheherazade Hirji, CEO, Canadian Women’s Foundation
The Forum sought to promote self-reflection and create dialogue on different perspectives so that anti-trafficking frontline responses can be improved and policies are better informed. The format of the Forum reflects the view that the work to end trafficking is complex and requires many approaches and therefore must include all organizations that might have contact with individuals that have been trafficked. The organizers of the Forum worked to create a safe space for dialogue. In support of these discussions and diverse perspectives, the organizers engaged two mediators from the St. Stephens Community House in Toronto, a counselor specialised in trauma, and designated a room for one-on-one counselling for participants.
The format for the Forum consisted of two stages.
The first day of the Forum was primarily information sharing and listening to participants. The second day of the Forum was about promoting dialogue and working in collaboration.
The Forum included individual presentations, panels, workshops and roundtable discussions. The subject matter of these forums included:
- improving access to justice for victims of trafficking;
- reducing unintended harms of anti-trafficking initiatives;
- involving survivors in anti-trafficking responses;
- increasing collaboration among organizations involved in frontline responses;
- improving housing models for trafficked individuals;
- examining the root causes of trafficking;
- exploring basic principles that should inform anti-trafficking policies;
- improving frontline responses to human trafficking; and
- thinking outside the box and creating innovative responses to the issue of human trafficking.
Plenary 1: Panel Discussion on Emerging Trends / Modalities in Trafficking in Canada
The first panel of the Forum reflected the complex nature of human trafficking by highlighting the numerous situations in which human trafficking arises. The panel included four individuals from organizations that work on the issue of human trafficking in different ways. The panel consisted of Laura Germino of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers who discussed human trafficking of farm workers in the United States, Shalini Konanur of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario who discussed forced marriage as an aspect of human trafficking, Bridget Perrier of SexTrade 101 who discussed missing and murdered Indigenous women as an issue of human trafficking, and Fay Faraday of Faraday Law who discussed the links between the temporary foreign worker program and human trafficking in labour. The following is a brief overview of their presentations.
Laura Germino, Coalition of Immokalee Workers
Laura Germino is from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a farmworker-based human rights organization based in Florida. The Coalition represents and works with migrant workers and immigrants to improve access to justice and create better working and living conditions for farm workers in the United States. CIW’s work has steadily grown over more than twenty years to encompass three broad and overlapping spheres: the Fair Food Program, the Anti-Slavery Campaign and the Campaign for Fair Food.
Ms. Germino expressed deep concern for migrant labourers due to the risk of exploitation and lack of access to justice due to the threat of deportation or detention. Ms. Germino explained the progress that CIW has made regarding migrant farm worker rights in the United States and expressed optimism that the same principles could be applied in Canada.
CIW’s main achievements include:
- The organization has been working on human rights issues for 25 years. They developed a successful model working with investigations and prevention of labour trafficking through trial and error;
- CIW has implemented a program which is successful large corporations such as Walmart, McDonalds and various super markets are held accountable by their customers. This has resulted in a commitment by the corporations to stop purchasing from sources where forced labour is present in the supply chain;
- The program has been implemented in seven states and is currently being implemented in the dairy industry in Vermont through the Ben & Jerry’s corporation;
- Part of the program includes on-the-job training and an ability to report abusive labour situations through a variety of mediums including a 24/7 hotline. Workers can report without the fear of retaliation because the mechanism is monitored by a third party;
- CIW’s Fair Food Farms have had no reports of forced labour or sexual violence. They have had success implementing a collaborative approach and have found that, through their program, the number of law enforcement interventions has reduced dramatically; and
- The key is prevention. By eliminating forced labour from these markets, CIW has also found that the sexual violence factor which often accompanied the situation of forced labour is also eliminated.
Shalini Konanur, South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario
Shalini Konanur is from the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario (SALCO), which has become a leader on issues of access to justice for low-income South Asians. SALCO works with thousands of clients a year and is one of 77 legal clinics that work with low income people in Ontario. Ms. Konanur spoke about the issue of forced marriage in Canada.
The main messages in her presentation include:
- In 2015, SALCO received 62 cases of forced marriage;
- There were 219 reported cases of forced marriage in Ontario from 2010 to 2012.
- SALCO is a national resource amongst many who work on forced marriage. Their resources include toolkits, safety cards, risk assessments, etc.;
- Victims of forced marriage include Canadian permanent residents and Canadian citizens.
- Forced marriage is not a black and white issue. SALCO defines it as a form of violence and an abuse of human rights. It is a practice in which a marriage takes place without the free consent of one or both of the individuals getting married. Forced marriage can happen to anyone of any gender, of any age;
- It is important to recognize that forced marriage can be a form of human trafficking. Most cases involve coercion, fraud and movement within Canada, out of Canada or into Canada, as well as marital rape and servitude. The act is that of marriage, the means is through force, whether it be physical violence, the threat of loss of immigration status or other means, and the purpose is exploitation;
- Involving the criminal courts in forced marriage can sometimes have the unintended consequence of preventing victims from coming forward because it might put them or their family members in danger;
- It is important to avoid a simplistic approach to dealing with forced marriage because of the various complexities such as the threat of danger for the victim’s family if that person is able to exit the forced marriage. The most crucial aspect is to safeguard the victim’s immigration status;
- In some cases of forced marriage, the victim might not want to harm their traffickers either because they love them or because this could result in harm for other family members. In some cases, with time, the victim is able to renter into contact with their family many years after they have left the forced marriage. Support services must be cognisant of this and should be open to helping all those in the victim’s life that have been affected by the forced marriage who are seeking help; and
- The government should support individuals who come forward through appropriate socio-economic and health supports. Victims of forced marriage should not have to be worried about being detained or deported.
Bridget Perrier, SexTrade101
Bridget Perrier is from SexTrade 101 and is a survivor of exploitation and human trafficking. Sex Trade 101 offers public awareness and education on all aspects of the sex trade. Ms. Perrier shared her personal story and expressed anguish over missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada.
Ms. Perrier’s key messages included:
- Canada’s First Nations women are the faces of human trafficking in Canada. According to the data, 51% of trafficked women in Canada are indigenous;
- Colonialism has played and continues to play a clear role in the treatment of aboriginal women in Canada;
- There is a database of 3,200 missing and murdered aboriginal women;
- Indigenous women face intergenerational issues of drug use and prostitution;
- Ms. Perrier calls for a screening process to identify potential abusers of sex workers;
- Ms. Perrier identified key areas for improvement in order to better address the issue(s) affecting Aboriginal women and girls :
- There is a need for language that is considerate of and sensitive to survivors of sex trafficking;
- Systemic issues such as misogyny, privilege, and patriarchy must be acknowledged and resisted in order to address the demand side of prostitution. Pimps and traffickers need to face criminal charges;
- There is a need for trauma-informed exiting services for trafficked women;
- There needs to be a simpler and more streamlined process for victims of human trafficking when applying for social assistance;
- Canada needs a national hotline for missing and murdered aboriginal women;
- Murderers of aboriginal women should be charged with a hate crime; and
- Canada should have a national taskforce on missing and murdered aboriginal women.
Fay Faraday, Faraday Law, Metcalfe Foundation
Fay Faraday is a labour and human rights lawyer in Toronto who has been representing migrant workers since 1990. In her legal practice, Ms. Faraday has addressed a wide range of social justice issues relating to migrant workers and workers in precarious employment, women's equality, race discrimination, gender and work, rights of persons with disabilities, employment equity, poverty, income security, international human rights norms, and homelessness and the right to adequate housing. Ms. Faraday spoke on the temporary foreign worker program in Canada. Her key points are summarized below.
- The temporary foreign worker program in Canada has grown rapidly in the past decade. Because of its conditions, the workers brought to Canada through the program face conditions of precarity and have no effective ability to resist in cases of mistreatment, because their housing and employment is tied to the particular employer who may be exploiting them;
- Workers who are mistreated and exploited are afraid to come forward or flee their current situation because they fear being deported or detained. Work visas tied to a specific job create a high risk for exploitation of workers;
- Often temporary foreign workers pay their recruiters to be brought to Canada. The “Profiting from the Precarious” study showed that workers were paying between $4,000 and $10,000 on average, in 2013, to come to Canada and work in minimum wage jobs. These recruitment practices result in even more precarious situations for these workers who cannot leave exploitive situations for fear that they will become homeless, be deported, or that harm will come to their families still residing in their home countries because of their debt stemming from the cost of recruitment;
- Some workers are brought into the country only to be forced into undocumented situations because they are told once they arrive that the job they were promised does not exist and they are sent to work somewhere else, which renders them even more vulnerable and makes it even more impossible to resist unfair employment practices;
- The issue regarding housing is that the employers will put far too many people in the housing unit and charge rent that is much higher than the renting market. This is made problematic by the fact that the work permit, as it currently stands, ties housing to the employer, thereby forcing the worker to remain in poor living situations while being charged exorbitant amounts of money for rent; and
- Governments need to be proactive about this issue rather than being reactive. Criminal law responses are inadequate for these workers, as they are left in precarious situations. Canada should licence, track and monitor recruiters. The government of Manitoba has developed a model that should be shared as a best practice in addressing temporary foreign worker issues proactively.
Participant Discussion on 1st Panel
Following the presentations by the panelists, participants shared some thoughts on what they heard.
- There was a consensus among participants that women should be able to decide for themselves how to label their situation. They should not feel obligated to say they were trafficked in order to receive support;
- One participant suggested involving the Department of Labour more in frontline human trafficking responses, because the department has access to workplaces;
- One table discussion concluded that sexual exploitation and labour exploitation are two separate issues under the human trafficking umbrella and should be dealt with differently; and
- One participant expressed concern over the revocation of legislation in B.C., which created a gap in protection against sexual exploitation.
Plenary 2: Panel Discussion on Gaps in Mainstream Anti-Trafficking Efforts & Promising Practices to Address those Gaps
The second panel at the Forum addressed the issue of gaps in current anti-trafficking efforts. The panel presented different perspectives of current anti-trafficking initiatives and provided some thought-provoking ideas for participants to discuss.
The panel consisted of Jean McDonald of Maggie’s: Toronto Sex Workers Action Project, Loly Rico of the FCJ Refugee Centre, Kate Zen of Butterfly: Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Network, and Danielle Monroe of ACT Alberta.
Overviews of their presentations are outlined below.
Jean McDonald, Maggie’s – Toronto Sex Workers Action Project
Jean McDonald is from Maggie’s: Toronto Sex Workers Action Project, which is an organization run by and for sex workers. Maggie’s is in favour of decriminalizing sex work to reduce harm and violence against sex workers. Ms. McDonald spoke about the need for a rights-based approach to ending human trafficking, which entails decriminalization and labour rights for sex workers. Ms. McDonald stated that what is needed is more prevention against violence and reparation rather than investigation and enforcement of current laws. Ms. McDonald stated that the current five year strategy of the Canadian Women’s Foundation should be re-evaluated. Ms. McDonald outlined five recommendations which are described below.
- Peer led outreach and support work is essential - peer-led models of outreach build trust and connect people in need with services.
- Migrants who are experiencing violence, exploitation and abuse should not have to fear detention and deportation if they report to police.
- Identifying as a victim of human trafficking should not be a condition to receiving services. There is a need for services to be offered more broadly regardless of if the individual identifies as a victim of human trafficking or not.
- There is a need for evidence-based research to better inform anti-trafficking work and to better define what is human trafficking as opposed to what is sex work.
- Issues such as poverty, homelessness, mental health and addiction are key in combatting exploitation and ending the cycle of violence and abuse.
Loly Rico, FCJ Refugee Centre
Loly Rico is the Co-Director of the FCJ Refugee Centre. FCJ Refugee Centre provides direct services including: housing, assistance with the permit process for temporary residency status as well as assistance with paperwork, translation and interpretation, accompaniment, referral to immigration lawyers, orientation to local social services, skills development, and counselling to support a healthy and positive start to life in Canada.
Some of Loly Rico’s key messages included:
- The need for a collaborative approach to combat human trafficking as well as a peer-led approach and for more funding towards services instead of law enforcement;
- Ms. Rico highlighted the approach taken by the FCJ Refugee Centre in addressing human trafficking and stated that the model is easily replicable by other organizations. The model has three stages: a risk assessment, offer to contact support services, and a needs assessment;
- Individuals who are trafficked internationally often face greater vulnerability due to the intersection of other factors such as immigration status, language barriers, their individual sexual or gender identity as well as cultural barriers; and
- There is a need for a non-punitive model that is based on human rights because human trafficking is a human rights violation. There is a need for peer-led support services and a collaborative approach, where front-line responders work together and where the victim’s needs are the priority.
Ms. Rico also highlighted in her presentation:
- The threat that undocumented trafficked people of being deported or detained;
- Trafficking victims do not have enough access to trauma counselling and other services; and
- Trafficking victims do not have access to settlement services.
Kate Zen, Butterfly: Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Network
Kate Zen is from Butterfly: Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Network. Butterfly was formed by sex workers, social workers, legal and health professionals to provide support to, and advocate for, the rights of Asian and migrant sex workers. The organization is founded upon the belief that sex workers are entitled to respect and basic human rights. Ms. Zen shared her personal experience of choosing to use sex work as a form of resilience against forms of violence she has faced.
Some of Kate Zen’s key messages included:
- The need for a more victim-centered approach, measured not by the number of training sessions provided but rather by the number of people impacted by this training. Instead of providing training for law enforcement, these resources should be reallocated to homeless shelters, victims of crime, and awareness campaigns;
- Being aware that using law as a tool can be too blunt of a measure in some cases;
- There is a need to improve victims’ access to permanent residency;
- It is important to use language that is inclusive; using titles such as The Girl Next Door is problematic; and
- There is a need to address issues from a migrant’s labour rights perspective.
Danielle Monroe, ACT Alberta
Danielle Monroe is from ACT Alberta, a pan-provincial organization that combats human trafficking by increasing knowledge and awareness on human trafficking, advocating for effective rights-based responses, building capacity of all involved stakeholders, and leading and fostering collaboration for joint action against human trafficking.
ACT Alberta recently created a community action plan with funding from Status of Women Canada. The objective was to come up with practical solutions to prevent and reduce sex trafficking in the community. As part of the action plan, a needs assessment was conducted which highlights the lack of consensus around the definition of human trafficking and that there is conflation of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, which can be problematic. The needs assessment revealed key priorities which include:
- Increase awareness, education and training;
- Focus on children and youth;
- Improve service provision through collaboration and community engagement;
- Address underlying structures and systems.
The Community Action Plan includes 10 goals:
- Provide training and education to service providers
- Improve access to information about services
- Increase public awareness about sex trafficking in Edmonton
- Create and disseminate educational materials for youth
- Develop robust response mechanisms for youth
- Streamline collaboration
- Target communities for engagement
- Address service gaps and barriers
- Develop safe and inclusive systems
- Strengthen and support existing initiatives advocating for structural change
ACT Alberta spoke to when the strategies were effective and when they were less effective in creating and implementing their Community Action Plan.
- Conditions in which strategies were effective:
- Community was ready, which was highlighted as an important aspect;;
- ACT Alberta had pre-existing networks which were valuable in terms the information that they were able to share;
- Holding frequent, regular meetings to build trust between participants;
- They held extensive consultations, actively engaged the community and giving the community buy-in, making it their project;
- Extremely important to engage the community;
- Conditions in which strategies were less effective:
- Some of the new relationships were hard to maintain, and a lack of resources made it difficult for organizations to send someone to the consultations;
- The project was time limited, which made it hard for organizations to adequately implement the strategies agreed upon;
- Need for greater collaboration, given the importance of building a network within the community so that the person you are working with can get help even if this help is outside of your particular organization’s mandate; and
- The need for sustainable funding was highlighted as a barrier to implementing long-term plans that are successful.
The Forum held five workshops on issues that are at the forefront of anti-trafficking initiatives:
- Improving access to justice for trafficked persons;
- Understanding a rights-based approach as a means of reducing unintended harms of anti-trafficking initiatives;
- Involving survivors in anti-trafficking responses;
- Promising practices in collaborative models and;
- Promising practices in housing models.
The following sections outline the discussions in each workshop.
Improving Access to Justice for Trafficked Persons
This workshop included presentations by Maureen Thrasher of WEFiGHT, an anti-human trafficking initiative based in Windsor, and Karen Dean of the Women’s Support Network of York Region. Following the presentations, participants discussed ways to improve access to justice for trafficked persons. Participants discussed the following themes:
- One of the barriers to justice that human trafficking victims face the different types of courts and the fact that decisions rendered in the criminal court, for example, are not respected in family court. For example, a victim who had been granted a restraining order from her trafficker in criminal court was granted shared child custody with her trafficker in family court.
- There is a requirement to standardize programs throughout the country and across provinces;
- Reporting to police can be problematic is certain cases. There is a need to support models such as that of WEFIGHT, which works with law enforcement and offers services to victims regardless of whether or not the victim is ready to exit;
- There is a need to train crown attorneys and judges and for better communication between crown attorneys and victims; and
- It is problematic that not all victims receive the same treatment as they navigate through the court system. A young victim will not be treated in the same way as a 30 year old victim with a criminal record, even though they are both victims of human trafficking. Services should be the same across the board, whether you are 17 or 30.
Understanding a Rights-Based Approach as a Means of Reducing Harms of Anti-Trafficking Initiatives
Presentations were made in this workshop by Elene Lam of the Migrant Sex Workers Project, Chanelle Gallant of STRUT, a Toronto-based sex worker organizing project, Annalee Lepp of the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, and Samantha Garcia Fialdini of the Canadian Council for Refugees.
The main themes in the discussion include:
- Restrictions on mobility through restrictive immigration policies, especially for workers from the Global South—often in the name of protection—drive undocumented migration and allow trafficking to occur;
- Trafficking responses often rely on labelling people as trafficked victims, irrespective of how they would identify themselves. This creates many vulnerabilities for non-status and criminalized people;
- Statistics on trafficking are unreliable and should not be relied upon for determining best responses to ending exploitation;
- Human rights and anti-oppression frameworks are needed to reduce harms of anti-trafficking initiatives:
- A human rights approach to human trafficking means having inclusive policies on human trafficking that account for unintended consequences for all affected communities;
- An anti-oppression approach means recognizing that oppression and unequal power occurs at a personal level (between people) and at a systemic level (in rules, structures and practices). People face oppression because of power imbalances and an anti-oppression approach seeks to internally and externally challenge and remove the influence of that oppression;
- In anti-trafficking work, this means developing and implementing non-punitive measures and asking whether negative impacts of interventions might occur to other communities. It also means asking people what they need rather than building services based on assumptions of what they need;
- Anti-trafficking initiatives need to address the immediate and long term needs of sex workers and potentially trafficked individuals, and should not be contingent on a person identifying as having been trafficked;
- Sex work should be recognized as work so that barriers to justice and access to services resulting from stigma and criminalization can be reduced; and
- Ant-trafficking initiatives need to work together to create appropriate preventative measures and reduce harm.
Involving Survivors in Anti-Trafficking Responses
This workshop included presentations by LaRaine Seivwright of Ndinawemaaganag Endaawaad, Pauline Gagne of PACT-Ottawa, Emily Forward and Karly Church of East Metro Youth Services, and Michelle Smith of the Women’s Support Network of York Region.
The discussion in the workshop raised the following themes and ideas:
- Organizations should use a governance framework that places trafficked individuals at the centre in order to ensure the organization is responsive to their needs. The organization should be flexible and respectful of survivors’ time, expertise and offerings when scheduling and making requests. Survivors are subject matter experts;
- Peer-led initiatives should be prioritized and survivors of human trafficking should be paid for their work with organizations and involvement in anti-trafficking initiatives in order to equalize the relationship and empower trafficked persons;
- Funding must be long-term and secure in order for the organization’s work to be sustainable in fighting human trafficking, given the reality that it takes time to develop trusting relationships and solicit input respectfully from survivors;
- Organizations should avoid asking intrusive questions and should be attentive to triggers of traumatic experiences in the work environments of survivors;
- Confidentiality must always be respected in order to build trust; and
- Organizations should be educated about the many experiences of trafficked people and should not perpetuate stereotypes in their involvement of survivors (i.e., only engaging with survivors with certain experiences or only implementing the feedback of certain groups).
Promising Practices in Collaborative Models
Presentations on promising practices in collaborative models were made by Sue Wilson of the Coalition Assisting Trafficked Individuals, Danielle Monroe of ACT Alberta and SJ Thiessen of Partners for Youth. The participants shared the following ideas following the presentations.
- Collaboration depends on the local context and community involved. The initial step should always be a needs assessment, followed by establishing priorities and creating a strategy depending on the community;
- Support services exist and are provided by multiple agencies but the barriers to access these services need to be reduced through collaboration;
- Collaborating on the initial response to a situation is important in order to avoid creating barriers to each other’s work. Other areas for collaboration are in enforcement, prevention, creating referrals, and accessing funding;
- Collaboration looks different depending on the level of government involved.
- Data needs to reflect community accurately. The definition of human trafficking is problematic because it excludes many situations;
- More focus should be placed on prevention. Collaborating with school boards is very important to raise awareness about consent increase respect for women; and
- Relationships between organizations should be consistent. Ad-hoc, short-term funding causes problems for continuity of programs and collaboration. Organizations should sign agreements and memorandum of understandings to ensure a strong sustainable collaboration.
Promising Practices in Housing Models
Presentations were made on promising practices in housing models by Julie Neubauer of Covenant House in Toronto, Toni Sinclair of Elizabeth Fry in Edmonton, Larissa Maxwell of Deborah’s Gate, and Marie-Hélène Senay of the Federation des maisons d’hebergement pour femmes. The participant discussion following the presentations is summarized below.
- The success of a program should not be measured by assessing client achievements such as finding a job but rather by small wins such as getting a good night’s sleep or processing grief. There are no timelines for healing;
- Reintegrating into society is a complex process and there is no straightforward or right way to do this. It depends on many factors and specific circumstances;
- Putting the client’s goals at the centre of the program is important. Respect for their wishes is essential to a positive outcome;
- Organizations need to be aware of and combat recruitment near and around housing options. The recruitment process cannot be underestimated; and
- Access to housing is one among many services a trafficked person needs. Programs should be designed to assist women in accessing a range of services based on their needs and goals.
Julie Kaye, Beyond Good Intentions – Anti-Trafficking and the Reproduction of Harm in Canada
Julie Kaye is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Director of Community Engaged Research at King’s University. She is a sociologist who specializes in the areas of social justice, critical criminology, law, gender, policy, development, human trafficking, and post- and settler-colonial thought. Her doctorate examined responses to human trafficking, development, migration, immigration policy, migrant worker programs, sex work, and policy. Dr. Kaye engages in community-based research with sex workers, community organizations, harm reduction strategies, and de-colonial organizing and research alongside Indigenous-led responses to violence against Indigenous women.
Dr. Kaye’s presentation was critical of anti-trafficking initiatives because of the widespread use of polarizing terminology and the mass oversimplification of a complex issue. She stated that the anti-trafficking narrative largely portrays trafficked women as eastern European or Asian women and stigmatizes sex workers. Ms. Kaye also pointed out gaps in the ways that funding for anti-trafficking has been distributed and that Canada’s National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking can be criticized for perpetuating historical forms of oppression. She criticizes anti-trafficking organizations that have a historical approach of ‘civilizing and saving’ marginalized people. She also pointed out that a number of anti-trafficking organizations deem acts performed for an exchange of money are a form of sexual exploitation.
“Trying to fit cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women into the trafficking box, we serve only to diminish or hide what we know to be true about their experiences”
- Sisters in Spirit Report, 2010
Dr. Kaye stated that the root causes of human trafficking must be understood through the context of a settler-colonial system of patriarchy, sexism, and racism. Ms. Kaye reinforced this perspective by highlighting the use of forced labour in residential schools, the disproportionately high number of female indigenous women in Canadian prisons, and indigenous children in state-based care. Ms. Kaye welcomed the dialogue initiated at the Forum and is hopeful that a commitment to critical reflection and structural change will occur.
Discussion from Tables
Following Dr. Kaye’s presentation, some participants expressed concern about pro-prostitution positions being expressed at the Forum. Some participants stated that the sex trade as whole is oppressive and that selling sex is exploitative regardless of the participation of consenting adults. These participants believe in abolishing the sex trade and that the focus needs to be on eliminating demand and educating young men and boys to be aware of ‘pimp culture’.
Other participants welcomed the debate and the differing opinions on the sex trade. Participants acknowledged the efforts of the Canadian Women’s Foundation and Public Safety Canada to create a safe space where everyone is considered equal and where all opinions can be expressed. Other participants indicated that only ten years ago there weren’t many conversations on human trafficking and the sex trade, and that to see these issues being discussed was a step forward.
The World Café portion of the Forum allowed participants to contemplate four topics: root causes of human trafficking; principles to inform anti-trafficking policies; frontline response improvements; and thinking outside the box on anti-trafficking initiatives. The following section outlines the responses from participants on each topic.
Theme 1: Root Causes
Participants recognized the following root causes of human trafficking:
- Forms of power and oppression including sexism, patriarchy and gender-based violence, racism and colonialism;
- Intergenerational traumas due to residential schools and a culture of colonialism;
- The media and the prominence of rape culture/ commodification of sex in society;
- The desire for cheap labour and Canada’s policy on foreign workers;
- The global context of immigration and the current migration crisis;
- Lack of education in schools on healthy relationships and consent;
- Desirability and the need to be loved as a vulnerability; and
- Accessibility of services and gaps in their provision.
Theme 2: Principles to Inform Policy
Participants expressed the following principles that should inform anti-trafficking policies:
- A survivor-led approach so that responses reflect the needs of those who are being trafficked;
- Peer-led programs;
- A rights-based approach;
- Focus on prevention;
- Flexibility and being culturally and geographically sensitive;.
- Access to assistance without fear of deportation or detention;
- A collaborative multi-stakeholder approach to provide wrap-around services and reduce barriers that perpetuate risks;
- A trauma-informed approach;
- Sustainable funding models; and
- Built-in evaluation systems and data systems.
Theme 3: Frontline Response Improvements
Participants acknowledged the following challenges to frontline responses to trafficking situations:
- Lack of capacity of organizations to respond in light of a funding constraints (due to insufficient funding and the donor-driven designation of funds);
- A lack of cooperation among organizations involved in frontline responses;
- Lack of adequate awareness of what trafficking entails;
- Lack of resources for identifying and supporting survivors;
- Siloed responses;
- Language barriers in terms of translation services and potentially alienating terminology;
- Barriers and dangers involved in exiting strategies;
- Major gaps in social services for youth aged 16 and up;
- Infiltration or monitoring of shelters and services by recruiters;
- Traffickers monitor movement and communications, making it difficult to access support
- Language used in anti-trafficking movement often doesn’t resonate with survivors (e.g., trafficking vs. boyfriend, trafficking vs. survival sex);
- Stigmatization and criminalization of survivors; and
- Threat of deportation, detention, being put in foster care or losing custody of a child.
Participants made the following recommendations for improvements to frontline responses:
- More survivor-led responses based on self-definitions of experiences;
- More long-term ongoing funding, not just short-term project-based grants;
- Creative responses to reach more girls and women (ex: use of social media);
- Peer-led outreach to connect with people involved in the sex trade by choice, circumstance, or coercion;
- Flexible initiatives that reflect the cultural and geographical surroundings;
- Creating an open space for dialogue and stakeholder collaboration in anti- trafficking initiatives;
- Awareness and trauma-informed training for lawyers, law enforcement, nurses, and other service providers so that human trafficking is more recognizable by frontline workers and survivors can receive adequate support;
- Responsive and flexible services available 24/7 that can respond immediately;
- Increased support for individuals that do not qualify for youth programs;
- More prevention measures including early education on healthy relationships and consent;
- More focus on creating sustainable long-term employment opportunities for survivors; and
- More research on the grooming process in human trafficking for both perpetrators and victims.
Theme 4: Outside the Box
Participants came up with many innovative and creative ideas to combat human trafficking including:
- Programs in the public education system discussing healthy and unhealthy relationships;
- Addressing the demand for cheap, disposable labour;
- Research innovative neuro and behavioural science initiatives on changing violent behaviour;
- Research on motivations of recruiters and traffickers and recruitment techniques;
- Social media campaigns;
- Using a change management strategy to modify judicial, political and support services to be more responsive to the issue of human trafficking;
- Create a space for families to have a voice and for a male survivor perspective;
- Youth voice is really important and missing currently;
- Recognition of indigenous sovereignty and self-determination; and
- Support the decriminalization of the sex industry so sex workers have access to labour protections and legal rights.
Participant Thoughts on Forum:
Feedback was provided by participants at the end of the forum. Key comments are identified below:
- Many participants were pleased with the diversity of groups and organizations that were invited and present at the forum. They expressed that this allowed for a more fulsome discussion on human trafficking in Canada and the way forward. As a result, they felt the forum provided an opportunity for a collaborative discussion and the inclusion of different perspectives. This provided an enriching experience;
- Some participants expressed that further attention should be given to labour trafficking and the vulnerability of the LGBTQ community and trafficking at the next forum;
- In response to presentations and workshops where a “pro-sex work” perspective was presented and advocated for decriminalization of prostitution, the following responses were expressed by some stakeholders:
- the speakers panel did not provide an effective balance between feminist abolitionist and pro-sex work perspectives given the guest speakers selected;
- supporting the legalization or total decriminalization of prostitution would cause additional harms to women and girls on the basis that it is inherently violent and exploitative, regardless of how a woman or girl finds herself in it; and
- looking at prostitution as a form of violence against women and as a practice of inequality did not receive sufficient attention at the Forum; and
- Consensus was held that violence experienced by people in the sex industry at the hands of those who procure sexual services should be denounced. Further to this, numerous delegates noted the pervasive physical and psychological harm inflicted on women and girls in the sex industry, emphasizing that ending prostitution is necessary to end these harms to women and girls.
Visioning Activity: What’s different in five years?
The facilitator asked participants to think about what differences they would like to see in five years in the fight to end human trafficking. Participants reflected on the experiences and perspectives that had been shared at the Forum. Participants made the following statements about what differences they would like to see in five years:
- That all parties will be able to work jointly on the issue of human trafficking, regardless of divergent points of view;
- That the focus of anti-trafficking initiatives is more on the brokenness of spirit that perpetuates the cycle of abuse and exploitation;
- That the focus of anti-trafficking initiatives is more on prevention;
- That more stakeholders are present in the anti-trafficking dialogue, such as transgendered youth;
- That there are more programs in schools educating youth about healthy relationships and consent; and
- That we have built stronger relationships with each other. 89" id="89">
The following recommendations are based on the experiences, observations and feedback from participants at the Forum;
- More peer-led outreach and programs to better connect with potential victims of human trafficking;
- Access to assistance for trafficking victims without the fear of deportation or detention.
- More prevention measures including early education on healthy relationships and consent.
- Funding for anti-trafficking initiatives should be long-term and sustainable;
- Ensure programs are flexible and better able to reflect specific cultural and geographic contexts.
- Creating more open spaces dialogue and stakeholder collaboration in anti-trafficking initiatives;
- Focus should be increased on recruiters of trafficking: what are their methods, motivations and grooming processes. Investments should be made in tracking and monitoring recruiter activities;
- Media should receive training so that they do not perpetuate stereotypes or re-victimize people who have been trafficked;
- The language used in anti-trafficking initiatives should be trauma-informed and rights-based.
- More training for lawyers, law enforcement, nurses and other service providers so that human trafficking is more recognizable by frontline workers;
- Increased collaboration among stakeholders to create more wrap-around services and reduce barriers that perpetuate risks for survivors of trafficking;
- More focus on creating more sustainable long-term employment opportunities for survivors of human trafficking; and
- Data collected must be evidence-based and inclusive of all experiences.
ANNEX A: Optional Working Lunch: Government of Ontario Upcoming Provincial Strategy
- In February, as part of the Long-Term Strategy to End Violence Against Indigenous Women, the Province committed to develop a strategy for the identification, prevention and intervention of human trafficking in Ontario.
- The strategy is being developed in collaboration with:
- Ministry of Community and Social Services
- Ministry of the Attorney General
- Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs
- Ministry of Labour
- Ministry of Children and Youth Services
- Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
- Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
- The Ontario government held three consultations and heard a lot of different perspectives
External Consultations to Date - Feedback Received:
- The strategy will respect the specific cultural needs of Indigenous communities;
- Investments need to be long-term and stable;
- Engaging survivors on their own terms, taking a trauma-focused approach that respects and is sensitive to the survivor’s unique needs and avoids re-victimization;
- Robust partnerships between police and social service organizations to ensure police can connect survivors with appropriate services and care;
- Creation of comprehensive, well-resourced and integrated services/coordination protocols and partnerships across health, housing, social services, law enforcement and labour sectors;
- A provincial access without fear policy to ensure trafficking victims with precarious status feel safe coming forward;
- Provision of professional training in the following priority sectors: justice (e.g. police, Crowns and judges), youth, education, transportation, hospitality, health and community-based services;
- Development of information sharing procedures across jurisdictions and sectors and leveraging of existing planning and coordination tables;
- Implementation of a single, case management, data collection system across local, provincial and national police services to enable consistent data collection and tracking;
- Increased prevention for at-risk individuals including Indigenous females and males;
- Development and delivery of public education and awareness campaigns, especially those targeted to youth that promote positive, healthy relationships; and
- Engagement of federal partners on issues under federal responsibility (e.g., protection of foreign national trafficked persons).
Feedback from Participants:
- Awareness activities is positive but we also need more funding for support services (homelessness, mental illness initiatives, shelters, affordable childcare)
- It is problematic for the police to be in the position to determine whether a person has been trafficked or not, regardless of whether the person claims that they are a consenting adult.
- The Ontario government should focus more on an exit strategy for victims
- The Freedom Collaborative website is a good resource for finding anti-trafficking initiatives in Canada.
- Date modified: