Since the fall 2014 publication of the ground-breaking “NO MORE” Report of the Task Force on Trafficking of Women and Girls in Canada”, the Canadian Women’s Foundation has made dramatic strides to combat sex trafficking in Canada. Through a five year strategy, the Foundation addresses this abhorrent crime in three strategic areas:
1. Financial support for critical anti-trafficking efforts.
2. Promotion of a collective action approach with many important stakeholders.
3. Sharing of knowledge and expertise to promote system change at the three levels of government.
Canadian Women’s Foundation began funding organizations working with women with a lived experience of sex trafficking in 2010. Our efforts continue to assist in preventing sex trafficking through multi-year funding that supports organizations in Canada to make real change.
As emphasized in our five-year strategy, it is essential that the voices of women who have experienced sex trafficking inform our work. We work hard to include their voices and experiences in ways that are safe, appropriate and supportive.
With the support of our expert volunteers, we are delighted to have launched our national call for sex trafficking proposals in June 2015. Our innovative grant making process is based on the principles of transparency, equal participation, geographic scope and accessibility. We work with communities with the least access to resources and consider the systemic barriers that can limit communities from accessing services. Led by our Chair, Jessica Houssian, our grant making committee is made up of expert volunteers, including trainers, frontline service providers, donors, law-enforcement officers and researchers. These volunteers work in many different areas, bringing specialist knowledge of work with refugees and other newcomers and Aboriginal communities. An advisory group of women who have experienced sex trafficking will also comment on the proposals, identify gaps and make suggestions for improvements. As we move ahead with the funded projects and plans for evaluation and knowledge mobilization, these women will continue to help shape our work.
We held two regional roundtables this year – one in Ontario and the other in Atlantic Canada – to promote our collective action approach, which provided an avenue for comprehensive discussions and collaboration between experts. These roundtables further highlighted emerging issues and challenges that add complexity to this area of work. We are uncovering many new areas that suggest supports for survivors, including:
- Models for education, skill building and wrap around supports/services that could be scaled-up across the country to assist survivors with rebuilding their lives.
- Strategies to assist with short and long-term challenges.
- Public awareness and education campaigns.
- Partnerships with governments and the private sector.
We will continue these discussions in Central and Western Canada and in Quebec in the coming months. The outcomes of these critical meetings will inform the structure of our National Summit proposed for spring 2016.
In addition to holding our regional roundtables, we have also made more than 25 presentations to multi-sectoral stakeholders, where we have provided information about evidence-based strategies to end sex-trafficking and sexual exploitation in Canada. This has allowed us to reach out to, and draw relevant feedback from, well over 3000 experts.
Bringing an end to sex trafficking is an extremely ambitious goal requiring a change in the way the issue is understood and talked about. The public must be able to sift through the sensationalist imagery and language that so often accompanies anti-trafficking efforts to understand the root causes of this crime – socioeconomic inequality, sexism, racism and oppression in many forms. To bring about the kind of change that will end sex trafficking, the Foundation is working collaboratively across sectors to increase our public education and awareness efforts.
Some of our existing initiatives across the country are:
i. Collaborating with child welfare agencies to create provincial guidelines assisting youth in care and youth at risk of trafficking.
ii. Working with Justice Ministries/Departments in an effort to assist to vacate/purge the criminal records of women and girls charged with prostitution offences and/or non-violent crimes as a result of their victimization while being trafficked
iii. Working with municipalities and provincial authorities, such as the Ontario government and Toronto Community Housing, to increase options for emergency, transitional and longer term housing as well as the coordination of wrap around services and supports for Survivors
iv. Supporting grantees (through funding) to provide greater options for rebuilding the lives of Survivors through increased educational and employment opportunities.
v. Continuing regional collaborations, through our regional roundtables across Canada, on these important policy areas.
Debunk Myths. Many people think sex trafficking only happens in a distant country. But many girls trafficked and sexually exploited in Canada are from Canada.
Raise Awareness. Share this article and our fact sheet on sex trafficking with your friends and family.
- Speak Up. Talk to your teens about healthy relationships. Talk to everyone about creating a culture of consent.
- Debunking Common Myths About Trafficking
- Take off the cape: Why using the word “rescue” is harmful to anti-trafficking efforts
- Trafficking: A Treacherous Journey (Infographic)