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Billboard campaign marks National Human Trafficking Awareness Day

OPP initiative aims to draw awareness of human trafficking
2021-02-22 Human Trafficking Awareness OPP
Feb. 22, 2021 is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

NEWS RELEASE
ONTARIO PROVINCIAL POLICE
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The Ontario Provincial Police Central Region, in partnership with Muskoka Victim Services, is launching an Anti-Human Trafficking Awareness Campaign in Muskoka on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, which takes place Feb. 22 this year. The goal of the campaign is to shine a light on human trafficking and how prevalent it is in our communities.

It is common for victims to believe that their traffickers are helping or caring for them, and therefore, they may show their loyalty to their traffickers. This does not mean that they are not victims.

Human trafficking involves the recruitment, transportation or harbouring of persons for the purposes of exploitation, typically in the sex industry or for forced labour. Victims are often from extremely vulnerable populations, including migrant workers, new immigrants, Indigenous women and youth, at-risk youth and those who are socially or economically disadvantaged.

Traffickers use major highways to transport their victims throughout Ontario. Billboards along Highway 11 in Muskoka will be utilized during the campaign to help spread awareness of human trafficking to passing motorists, including human trafficking victims being transported by their traffickers.

The billboards will feature comments made by human trafficking victims, highlighting how normalized they believed their situation may have been. The campaign also encourages members of the public to utilize the hashtag #KnowHumanTrafficking or visit here to learn more and join the conversation. The images will also be shared on social media on Facebook (@OPPCentralRegion and @MuskokaVictimServices) and Twitter @OPP_CR.

The signs of human trafficking are not always obvious. Although the presence of one sign doesn't necessarily identify human trafficking, a variety of indicators may point to the fact that an individual is being trafficked and needs help. These indicators may include:
    •    Refusing to disclose information or provides false information
    •    Unable to indicate where they are living, or give their address
    •    Unable to identify their last location or their upcoming destination
    •    Traveling with a lack of or limited luggage
    •    Wearing clothing that is inappropriate for the weather or situation
    •    Allowing someone else to take control of the conversation for themselves and others
    •    Not having possession of their own identification or money
    •    The individual seems afraid, anxious or depressed
    •    Another person controls the individual's conversation
    •    Showing signs of abuse, malnourishment or sleep deprivation

For more information, visit here.

If you or someone you know may be a victim, please call 9-1-1 immediately. Victims are encouraged to reach out to Muskoka Victim Services at 1-844-762-9945 for immediate emotional and practical assistance, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Should you wish to make a report anonymously, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit here.

National Human Trafficking Awareness Day takes place on Feb. 22 this year and helps bring awareness to the magnitude of modern day slavery in Canada and abroad and encourages us to take steps to combat human trafficking.

Billboard locations:
    •    Muskoka northbound location - 2016 Highway 11, Gravenhurst
    •    Muskoka southbound location - 1261 Highway 11 S, Severn Bridge

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