A new 1-800 line is now in operation, in Ottawa, to offer support and help for those trapped in the abusive cycle of human trafficking.
The new toll-free number, 1-800-292-1168, connects directly with the Ottawa Police Service's Human Trafficking Unit, where victims can get the help they need to get out of their situation, no matter where they are in Canada.
Sex trade trafficking victims are often rotated from city to city, along the Montreal to Toronto corridor. Sometimes they are even transported across the border, into the United States.
"I'm not sure most residents of Ottawa are aware at how prevalent human trafficking is here," said Sergeant Damien Laflamme. "On any given day, there is at least one sex trade worker in every single hotel across the city."
He added, "We are working closely with hotels and entertainment groups in the city to train frontline personnel on how to recognize signs of human trafficking and what they can do if they see it. But we also wanted to provide a way for victims or people with information to contact us, no matter where they are in Canada."
The OPS will be joining other city-wide agencies on February 22 for Human Trafficking Awareness Day, at City Hall, from 8:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
"This event is the culmination of a cooperative effort with our frontline partners to ensure that we are actively working towards providing the much-needed supports for victims of human trafficking," said Deputy Chief Uday Jaswal. "As a police service, it is important that we approach this as a community and develop solutions, together."
Durham Regional Victim Service Executive Director Carly Kalish will be the keynote speaker at the event, hosted by Ottawa Victim Services and sponsored by Crime Prevention Ottawa. She will discuss her stages of change approach to supporting survivors.
If you would like to attend the Human Trafficking Awareness Day discussion, you can register at htawareness2019.eventbrite.ca.
On the same day, the Anti-Violence & Coercion Taskforce for Indigenous Organizations & Networks (ACTION) is hosting an event in support of Indigenous Human Trafficking Awareness. This event is sponsored by Tungasuvvingat Inuit and Minwaashin Lodge. You can register and/or donate to the event: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/indigenous-human-trafficking-awareness-day-event-tickets-55186389978. For more details regarding the event please email email@example.com.
If you would like to learn more information about human trafficking, including recognizing the signs of trafficking in others, please visit ottawapolice.ca/HTU.