Human trafficking project gets federal funding boost
Indigenous women are guiding a new collaborative project aimed at combating human trafficking in Alberta.
Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair announced the project entitled Integrated Response for Victims of Sex Trafficking and Exploitation: Red Deer North, Alberta on Wednesday. The federal government has committed nearly $500,000 over four years to REACH Edmonton, who will oversee the project.
“The object of this project is to develop a co-ordinated community response to victims of human trafficking in Red Deer and Edmonton and surrounding communities, driven by their needs,” Blair said. “All aspects of this project will be delivered in a trauma-informed and culturally sensitive manner, guided by Indigenous women.”
Working closely with law enforcement and community partners, such as Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) and the Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation (CEASE), the project will help identify locations where individuals may be at increased risk of being trafficked.
“That in turn can help provide interventions and immediate safety and transitional support for the victims of this terrible crime,” Blair said.
The funding also will help REACH Edmonton, an organization focusing on increasing community safety and inclusion, to develop a curriculum and Albertaspecific training for front-line workers who may come across victims of human trafficking.
“This curriculum will increase the capacity of law enforcement, service providers and shelter workers to meet the needs of victims of human trafficking in a way that is trauma-informed and sensitive to the victim's lived experience.”
Between 2009 to 2016, according to Statistics Canada data, 8.2 per cent of all of Canada's human trafficking cases were reported in Alberta.
That number is behind Quebec, at 13.6 per cent, and Ontario, at 65.8 per cent.
Jan Fox, executive director of REACH Edmonton, said she has heard anecdotally that trafficking has gone underground and become much worse through the COVID -19 pandemic.