National Victims of Crime Awareness Week is April 19-25, so the Action Coalition on Human Trafficking (ACT Alberta) recently came to City Hall to give a presentation on their work. It was an eye-opening and thought-provoking experience, especially considering this takes place right here in Calgary and all across Canada.
The speakers explained the definition of human trafficking according to the United Nations - which is that traffickers undertake ACTION (transfer, recruitment, receipt, transportation, harbouring) using MEANS (abduction, force, threat/coercion, abuse of power, fraud/deception) for the PURPOSE of exploiting people (servitude, forced labour, sexual exploitation, removal of organs, slavery/similar practices).
It’s hard to imagine this happening here, but ACT Alberta has assisted victims who have been forced into agriculture, construction, processing plants, retail, restaurants, strip clubs, hospitality, domestic servitude, massage parlours, and gangs. While three-quarters of those trafficked are women and girls, and two-thirds of victims are subjected to sexual abuse, there are any number of ways a trafficked person can be forced to work. ACT Alberta says they are continuously seeing new ways victims of human trafficking are being used, and some of them are even being put to use in otherwise legal businesses. In Alberta, labour trafficking is present in nearly half of the referrals ACT Alberta receives.
Once a victim of human trafficking is identified, they are assisted by a Victim Service Unit, and then often a Victim Advocate to access the information and support they need. This could include referring the victim to other agencies better suited to assist them, such as CanTalk, which is a language service company that provides interpretation 24/7 as needed.
If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, please call 403-266-1234, or 911 if it is an emergency. If you would like to report human trafficking anonymously, please call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).
This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.