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Alberta announces $3.5M for 20 anti-human trafficking organizations


The province is using $3.5 million in funding to help support 20 anti-human trafficking organizations in Alberta.

The UCP made the announcement on Thursday to coincide with National Human Trafficking Day,

Observed every Feb. 22, the day serves as a time to raise awareness for and develop ways to combat human trafficking.

Human trafficking is forced participation in the sex trade or labour market, where manipulation is used to exploit individuals and take away their choice, according to the Joy Smith Foundation, a Winnipeg-based organization dedicated to fighting human trafficking and supporting victims.

The province says in 2022, there were 528 police reported incidents of human trafficking in Canada, but most go unreported, and the true number of cases and victims in unknown.

"This is a practice that strips victims of their essential human rights," said Alberta Public Safety Minister Mike Ellis. "It includes victims who already belong to some of the most vulnerable groups in our province."

"The demand for timely supports to help victims is both urgent and constant. That is why today is more than just acknowledgments and awareness. It's about action."

Paul Brandt, president and founder of #NotInMyCity echoed those comments at a Thursday morning press conference held at the Calgary International Airport, saying the funding is focussed on emergent and urgent needs.

"One of the needs that we often find is a safe and rapid exit for people wanting to escape their trafficking situation, and there was a gap in the system to be able to rapidly help a survivor," he said.

Brandt says funds will also go toward helping survivors transition back to their everyday life, helping them with training or advancing their education.

That support is in line with the work the Action Coalition on Human Trafficking Alberta is doing to assist those in need.

Executive director Kate Price says the anti-trafficking movement cannot be led by agencies and allies alone.

"Survivors must be empowered to lead this movement, to tell us what they need and to be properly compensated when we seek them out for their expertise," she said.

"This funding will enable our cooperative to grow our victim services unit, strengthen partnerships and welcome more survivor leadership into our work.

"Every day we're learning more about how to ethically support survivors without sensationalizing what they alone have experienced."

In 2023-2024, the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams' (ALERT) human trafficking units reported making 30 arrests, laid 212 charges, and made 76 victim interventions in the province.

"By design, this is an industry that operates in the shadows of society," said Acting Staff Sgt. Liana Deegan said in a news release.

"It is integral that we break the taboo and talk about human trafficking, because the reality is that it’s happening here, in our backyards, in communities urban and rural."

Anti-human trafficking community organizations receiving government funding include:

  • Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation (CEASE)
  • RESET Society of Calgary
  • Waypoints
  • Action Coalition on Human Trafficking Alberta (ACT Alberta)
  • Catholic Social Services
  • HER Victory
  • #NotInMyCity
  • Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre
  • Community Response Model (Hull Services)
  • Alberta Human Trafficking Provincial Network
  • #NotInMyCity – The Maddison Sessions
  • Edmonton Multicultural Health Brokers
  • Kainai Transition Centre Society
  • Metis Child & Family Services Society
  • Native Counselling Services of Alberta
  • Creating Hope Society of Alberta
  • Wood Buffalo Wellness Society
  • Tsuut'ina Nation Police Service
  • Policy Wise – HT Data Portal
  • Calgary Centre for Newcomers

In October 2022, Alberta’s government committed more than $20 million in new funds over four years to step up the fight against human trafficking.

The average age people are forced into the sex trade in Canada is 13-years-old, according to the Joy Smith Foundation.

The organization says 93 per cent of sex trafficking victims in Canada are Canadian.

"This is something that’s happening in communities right across Canada," said Janet Campbell, CEO and president.

"Within one-kilometer of where you are, someone is being lured into the sex-trade."

Campbell says knowledge is the greatest protection against human trafficking, the more we understand the more we can prevent it.

"Youth are incredibly vulnerable to being targeted and trafficked," she said.

Signs of human trafficking

According to the Joy Smith Foundation, signs of human trafficking include: 

  • Sudden interest in a man several years older;
  • New clothing, jewelry, or gifts without having money;
  • Frequent sleepovers at a friend’s house;
  • Sudden change in style of dress of makeup;
  • New circle of friends and isolation from their old group;
  • Change in attitude towards school, regular activities, and friends;
  • Grades at school are dropping;
  • Unexplained cuts or bruises;
  • Using two cell-phones.

"We want people to take a closer look at the changes in behaviour and understand what’s going on," said Campbell.

Human trafficking support 

If you suspect that you or someone you know is being exploited you can call the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-833-900-1010, or reach out via the organization's chat hotline.

Information and other resources are also available from the The Candian Centre to End Human Trafficking Hotline Top Stories

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