Public Safety Canada’s Webinar Series: Education and Awareness of Human Trafficking

Press Release


Under the National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking (National Strategy), Public Safety Canada committed to hosting annual stakeholder engagements to share information, and identify emerging trends and opportunities for collaboration. Due to COVID-19 public health restrictions, engagements in 2021-2022 were held virtually.

This report provides a summary of three webinars held January 2022 – March 2022 with the theme of “Education & Awareness of Human Trafficking”.

805 participants from a variety of sectors and levels of government across Canada were in attendance.

Webinar 1 : Collaborative Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking – January 25, 2022

Presenters showcased how public awareness campaigns and education are critical to strategies to combat human trafficking. Highlights include:

Presentation 1: ‘Raising Awareness of Human Trafficking in Canada – Myths, Misperceptions and Communication Preferences Among the General Public’ by The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking – Julia Drydyk, Executive Director


  • The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking commissioned Neilsen IQ to conduct a public opinion poll to gauge Canadians’ understanding of human trafficking in Canada.
  • Poll respondents indicated that mandatory human trafficking education in schools is considered to be an effective way of raising public awareness about the realities of human trafficking in Canada.
  • Drydyk shared how a vast majority of poll respondents erroneously believe human trafficking is people being smuggled across international borders.
  • Additionally, youth are less likely to consider someone being kidnapped or pressured into sex trade to be an example of human trafficking.
  • Young or Indigenous females were thought to be common victims of sex trafficking. Canadian citizens and men are considered least likely victims.
  • The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking is currently in the midst of a four-month communications and awareness campaign that primarily leverages earned media, out of home postings (posters in public transit, rest stops, schools, libraries, recreation centres), and paid social media to work on this issue.

Presentation 2: ‘How Education Can Be a Game Changer in the Fight to End Human Trafficking in Your Community’ by the Joy Smith Foundation – Joy Smith, Founder, Former Member of Parliament


  • Joy Smith shared how education can be a game changer in the fight to end human trafficking in communities. She explained the differences between human trafficking and human smuggling, who may be at risk of being trafficked, and the various methods used by traffickers to maintain control over their victims, including physical violence, sexual assault, and emotional abuse.
  • Human trafficking may occur across or within borders and can involve extensive organized crime networks.
  • To combat the risks, Smith noted how education is the greatest weapon in combatting human trafficking. Youth are lured by traffickers every day because they are unaware of the covert tactics used by predators.
  • In closing, Smith described how the National Human Trafficking Education Centre is built on three pillars: education, collaboration and healing.

Presentation 3: ‘Research, Education and Collaboration for Sex Trafficking Prevention’ by BRAVE Education for Trafficking Prevention’ by Kelly Schuler, Executive Director, BRAVE Education for Trafficking Prevention

Facebook: BraveEducationforTraffickingPrevention
Instagram: BRAVEEducation
LinkedIn: BRAVE-Education-for-Trafficking-Prevention

  • Kelly Schular explained how BRAVE Education helps prevent child sexual exploitation in Canada through research, education, and collaboration. She shared a video demonstrating their emphasis on prevention and addressing systemic issues that cause children to be vulnerable to human trafficking. The video can be viewed here: Upstream Thinking.
  • BRAVE’s collaborative approach is to work with community leaders across the country to ‘go upstream’ to identify, educate and put in anti-trafficking preventive safety measures and networks of support for children. Their programming is research and survivor informed in the communities of those who have been most affected and who are most at risk in Canada. Testimonies of survivors of sexual exploitation, as well as of people with previous exploitative behaviour in the sex industry, highlight important points of intervention that can prevent the trafficking of children from happening in the first place.
  • In addition to programming for children and youth, the BRAVE Education Team delivers professional training at conferences, and holds professional development events. Customized professional development sessions are delivered for: law enforcement, border services, educators, counsellors, youth justice services and psychologists. Emphasis is also on providing supports to parents, youth leaders, and community organizations to develop a community of support safety nets for children.
  • The BRAVE approach is to empower the next generation to create a shift to a new cultural norm to counter sexual exploitation. The BRAVE Team believes the way forward to achieve this is to empower children and youth to be anti-trafficking advocates. Program components are designed based on research-informed social behavioural change theory, using a strengths-based approach.
  • To learn more about this prevention approach, see: BRAVE Perspectives .

Presentation 4: ‘Human Trafficking Public Awareness Campaign’ by Erin Rogers, Marketing Communications Manager, and Shawn Takacs, Marketing Communications Advisor, Public Safety Canada

Contact: ,

  • In September 2019, the Government of Canada announced the National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking, which included the development of a five-year national human trafficking public awareness campaign aimed at Canadian youth and young adults aged 16-25 and parents. To learn more, visit Public Safety Canada’s human trafficking campaign website.
  • The presenters shared public opinion research findings showing that many Canadians often confuse human trafficking with human smuggling, believing human traffickers are organized criminals or strangers lurking online when in nearly 60% of police-reported cases, the perpetrator was a friend, acquaintance, or current or former intimate partner.
  • The presenters also showed an awareness video, which is a central component of the human trafficking advertising campaign. They also explained how Public Safety Canada is implementing experiential marketing (XM) into their communication plans, and using lessons learned from the summer 2021 Ontario test pilot exhibits. The awareness video can be viewed at: .
  • The presenters noted work will begin on expanding the human trafficking XM marketing tour nationally in 2022-2023 and beyond, including higher risk locations ; and continuing to work in collaboration with the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking.

Discussion Highlights

  • There is a high degree of misconception about what human trafficking really is, and consideration is being given to shifting/adapting the terminology to resonate more with Canadians.
  • Panelists mentioned the importance of collaboration amongst NGOs, governments, as well as with police forces and schools. Combatting human trafficking is a learning journey to find best practices together and get at the root causes to fundamentally end human trafficking in Canada. Changing the narrative for the next generation and shifting to a new cultural norm is integral.
  • The need for education and awareness was emphasized. Human Trafficking is an issue where education is key to reduce stigmatization. De-stigmatization allows people to have these conversations at home, and having these conversations with family members and children is instrumental in prevention.
  • With respect to awareness campaigns, clear and quantifiable benchmarks and goals, which rely on baseline tests and surveys, is required.

Webinar 2 : Combatting Forced Labour – February 15, 2022

Presenters highlighted best practices in Canada and internationally to address instances of forced labour, and explored the specific vulnerabilities of migrant workers in Canada. Highlights include:

Presentation 1: France – Pathfinder Country for Alliance 8.7 and ‘National Acceleration Strategy to Eliminate Child Labour, Forced Labour, Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery by 2030’ by Dr. Anousheh Karvar, Government Representative to the ILO and to the G7-G20 Labour & employment; and Chair of the Global Partnership against Child Labour, Forced Labour, Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery (Alliance 8.7)


  • Dr. Anousheh Karvar, as Chair of Alliance 8.7, explained how Alliance 8.7 assists “pathfinder” countries in organizing national workshops and strategies, and to foster dialogue with local labour unions and businesses combat human trafficking and forced labour. Alliance 8.7 is an initiative in the United Nations landscape that brings together stakeholders who want to accelerate their efforts to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goal 8.7, “taking immediate and effective measures to end child labour in all its forms by 2025, and eradicate forced labour, human trafficking and modern slavery by 2030”.
  • Alliance 8.7 traces human trafficking and forced labour to the interplay of three critical dimensions: (a) gaps in statutory legislation, enforcement, and access to justice that create space for non-compliance; (b) socio-economic pressures facing individuals and workers; and (c) business conduct and business environment.
  • Given the complexity of the issue, a far reaching, whole of government approach is needed to achieve the eradication of child labor, forced labor, human trafficking, and modern slavery.
  • Dr. Karvar shared a presentation on the French National Acceleration Strategy to eliminate child labour, forced labour, human trafficking, and modern slavery by 2030 and explained how the National Acceleration Strategy will reinforce and complement the existing inter-ministerial strategies and action plans , with the view to eradicating child labour by 2025, forced labour, human trafficking, and modern slavery by 2030.

Presentation 2: ‘Why it Matters What We Buy – Challenging Forced Labour and Human Trafficking through Procurement’ by Dr. Olga Martin-Ortega, Professor, University of Greenwich and Dr. Alexander Trautrims, Associate Director, University of Nottingham Rights Lab


  • The presenters discussed the international policy context, the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights; and provided an overview of where is it may be more likely to find forced labour and human trafficking in supply chains (country risks and/or procurement category risks); and what we can do to lower those risks such as educate suppliers, expect due diligence, build collaborations, etc.
  • They outlined what forced labour and human trafficking is, and how forced labour and human trafficking in global supply chains includes public supply chains.
  • The presentation concluded with an invitation to learn more at:

Presentation 3: ‘Labour Exploitation Affecting Migrant Agricultural Workers in Canada’ by Santiago Escobar, National Representative, UFCW Canada / United Food and Commercial Workers Union


  • Santiago Escobar spoke about Canada’s Temporary Foreign Workers Program  which allows employers to hire foreign nationals to fill workforce gaps temporarily.
  • He played a video of a young woman who came to Canada for better employment prospects. The video showed how racialized migrant agricultural workers who have closed work permits, tied to one employer, are easy targets for discrimination and abuse. “Cecilia – The hidden cost of food in Canada” can be viewed at: .
  • Escobar noted how in practice, this gives disproportionate power to employers over workers and can create the conditions to pressure workers to maximize their productivity at the expense of their mental and physical wellbeing.
  • He also highlighted that migrant workers are very vulnerable to abuse and exploitation and this can end in human trafficking cases.
  • Escobar also spoke of UFCW’s 30 years of experience in supporting migrant workers across Canada, and the federal and provincial reforms needed to protect migrant workers coming into Canada under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program.

Presentation 4: ‘Improving Canada’s Response to Labour Trafficking and the Assistance Provided to Victims’ by Yvon Dandurand, Criminologist, Professor Emeritus, University of the Fraser Valley; Fellow and Senior Associate of the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy


  • Yvon Dandurand outlined key issues surrounding labour trafficking in Canada; including not receiving sufficient attention in Canada, very few cases being identified, victims of labour trafficking rarely reporting their experiences to the authorities, and several others.
  • To address these issues, improved understanding, prevention, detection, investigations, prosecutions and assistance are needed.
  • Identifying victims of labour trafficking will likely continue to be difficult and the consequences for victims reporting their victimization can be severe and their negative effects must be mitigated to protect victims and increase reporting .
  • It is important to ensure that immigration policies, immigration law enforcement and Temporary Foreign Worker Program conditions do not further compound temporary foreign workers’ vulnerability. Some specific measures can be taken to improve victim reporting rates and victim detection. Proactive investigations are absolutely essential , and proactive investigations can be facilitated by interagency collaboration and by linking regulatory activities with law enforcement investigations.
  • Dandurand shared a new resource: New Legislative Guide:  Millar, H., Dandurand, Y. & Chan, M. (2022). Supply Chains Transparency and Due Diligence Legislation to Prevent Child and Forced Labour: A Guide for Policy Makers and Legislators. Vancouver: International Centre for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy.

Discussion Highlights

  • The Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program is facilitated through bilateral agreements between sending countries and Canada, and provides a safer process for workers than the Temporary Foreign Workers program in which recruitment is facilitated by unaccountable private agencies. Shifting the Temporary Foreign Workers program from a private to public recruitment system would be a positive path forward.
  • The size of organizations influences their impact on supply chains. Big buyers should take responsibility for moving supply chains to a better place, because smaller companies don’t have the power or impact necessary to shift the system.
  • Partnerships are very important, as they allow smaller organization to work together to  leverage their influence on the supply chain.
  • People often think of labour trafficking in terms of forced labour, ignoring that this includes being deceived into exploitative labour situations as well as being physically forced into exploitation. This misconception, as well as the lack of media coverage, leads people to believe that labour trafficking does not happen in Canada.

Webinar 3 : The Use of Technology in Law Enforcement to Combat Human Trafficking – March 23, 2022

Presenters explored the ways in which technology can be used to prevent and investigate cases of human trafficking. Highlights include:

Presentation 1: ‘Advancing Policy to Combat Technology-Facilitated Human Trafficking’ by Radu Cucos, Office of the Special Representative and Coordinator for Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)


  • Radu Cucos, spoke to Policy Responses to Technology-Facilitated Trafficking in Human Beings; noting how innovation has had a big impact on how criminals are misusing technology with success at every stage of human trafficking. He also highlighted that addressing the current large scale of human trafficking facilitated by technology is not possible through criminal justice responses only, given the limited human and financial resources, and the need for smart policies to dismantle the online human trafficking marketplaces.
  • To comprehensively address technology-facilitated trafficking, states have to consider policies which would incentivize or mandate online platforms to pro-actively combat human trafficking on their infrastructure and resources. Policy measures could include liability for harm caused by content on the platforms or exploitation occurring through the platform. Liability should be based on a “should have known” standard, adopting strong prevention measures including “Safety-by-design” principles, age and consent verification and high-visibility content removal request mechanism, as well as adoption of due diligence obligations for online platforms operations and systems to identify trafficking risks and take steps to mitigate them. OSCE has additional resources on this topic available on their website – which can be found at: .

Presentation 2: ‘AI for Combatting Human Trafficking in Canada’ by Reihaneh Rabbany, Principal Investigator, Project Infrared; Allison Cohen, Applied AI Projects Lead and Benjamin Prud’homme, Executive Director, AI for Humanity, Mila


  • Mila is the world’s largest academic research lab specialized in deep learning, with a large cross disciplinary team that aims to make scientific advances in AI. They explained how the Infrared program seeks to identify online activity that is suspicious of containing human trafficking victims in order to understand the size, scope and trends of the market. While many legal and policy challenges exist, panelists outlined and explained ways that collaboration across sectors is the best way forward.

Presentation 3: ‘Provincial Human Trafficking Intelligence-led Joint Forces Strategy (IJFS)’ by Jordan Whitesell, Detective Inspector, Ontario Provincial Police


  • Jordan Whitesell presented the work of the Provincial Human Trafficking Intelligence-Led Joint Forces Strategy (IJFS) in Ontario. Going over best practices and trends, Whitesell explained how the IJFS aims to employ a coordinated, intelligence-led approach to investigating multi-jurisdictional human trafficking criminal groups that utilizes a victim-centered and trauma informed approach.
  • Whitesell noted that technology is integral in human trafficking cases as it is used within individual cases, to find links across cases, and to find strategic trends for evidence-based programming. Challenges related to evidence collection, volume of data, scalability and organizational risk are still prevalent.

Discussion Highlights

  • It is currently difficult to leverage AI while prioritizing human rights and the privacy of victims and survivors. Understanding the risks, ethical considerations, and laws, is important, as it can be difficult to balance safety and privacy.
  • Thinking through the governance of the data, algorithm, and organization is key, as is using a human rights framework that ensures all AI algorithms comply with the law. Involving marginalized populations that are more affected by these crimes is another key factor in balancing these risks. Transparency and collaboration are integral to achieving the right mix of privacy and protection.
  • Evidence based programming is important when it comes to intelligence and investigations. However, within Counter Exploitation efforts, there is a lack of applicable data and best practices, due in no small part to the complexity of the crime. Consultation and collaboration are essential to bridging this gap.
  • Governments, civil society, academia, and the private sector need to partner in order to leverage their expertise. Partnerships between NGOs and police, where NGOs work to report signs of human trafficking cases on the open web to police for further analysis have significant potential. Another important partnership is between the private sector and NGOs, where the private sector funds NGOs to create tools, and then the NGOs give governments access to them.


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