Volume 12 | Issue 4
April 2021
Human trafficking in the news
TAT partners with Native Women’s Association of Canada
to fight trafficking in Indigenous communities
In Canada, numerous studies and research projects have shown that, both currently and historically, Indigenous women and girls compose a significant percentage of trafficking targets. To raise awareness of this complex issue in an effective and comprehensive manner, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is working on a fully funded project to create three training modules for community members, the transportation industry and the hospitality industry. They approached TAT to partner with them on the transportation portion.

NWAC is an aggregate of 13 Native women’s organizations from across Canada, founded to enhance, promote and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of Indigenous women within their respective communities and Canada societies. Its violence prevention arm is MMIWG, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, which is committed to developing concrete actions to end the cycle of violence that affects Indigenous communities.

Candice Shaw, director of Violence Prevention and MMIWG, NWAC, said, “Having only just established in as a distinct policy unit October 2020, NWAC’s Violence Prevention and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (VP-MMIWG) was given an opportunity to develop partnerships with key organizations through a funded project seeking to address the impacts of human trafficking and sexual exploitation on Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. Through conversations with NWAC colleagues, TAT’s name was raised as a well-known and respected organization committed to providing educating and awareness to those who work in the transportation industry to recognize and report instances of human trafficking.”

She continued, “After meeting with Kendis, Kylla, and Liz, the VP-MMIWG team knew that their knowledge and experience would be a huge asset to the team’s current and ongoing scope of work. It was also readily apparent that the TAT team were deeply invested in hearing more about the specifics of the Canadian transportation context and its impact on historically marginalized populations like Indigenous women and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. This relationship quickly formed into a partnership in the truest sense. We are incredibly grateful for the time and energy that TAT has invested to help us co-inform training materials directed at the Canadian transportation sector, informed by Indigenous experiences and perspectives. TAT has shown us that passion, knowledge-area expertise, and dogged determination can achieve real and positive social change. We are humbled by this partnership experience, and we hope that this project has provided the first step in a long-lasting partnership journey between NWAC and TAT.”
Kendis Paris, TAT executive director, described the new relationship by saying, "When it comes to understanding the links between human trafficking and Indigenous populations, our partnership with NWAC is proving to be invaluable. Not only will it strengthen and enhance our Canada-specific training resources, but this partnership is opening up clear communication lines between TAT and the local groups on the frontlines of the issue. Ideally, this collaboration will foster the targeted systems change necessary to combating sexual exploitation throughout Canada."

“TAT’s incredible work and amazing success in helping everyday heroes make real change in their world is truly unique,” explained Shelagh Roxburgh, senior policy advisor for VP-MMIWG, NWAC. “Kendis, Kylla, Liz and the whole team are so open, passionate and grounded, and their ability to make complex issues part of day-to-day practice makes them an exceptional organization. Having the opportunity to work with TAT through a true partnership allowed us to learn how they have developed a practice that helps anyone, from any walk of life, find their place in the fight against trafficking. All organizations begin with the dream of making change, but some can get weighed down by the challenges they face or the complexity of their environment. TAT is a true change maker and will continue to be, because every team member works tirelessly with integrity, honesty, and humility. It has been an incredible journey walking with them these past few months.”

Among the findings of various studies, which can be found on TAT’s website:
  • In 2019, the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (NIMMIWG) was released and concluded that the trafficking of Indigenous women and girls isn’t new to Canada. Historically, they were bought and sold as slaves, and, in the 1880s, it was known that the North West Mounted Police were participating in the trafficking of Indigenous women. In that report, the Inquiry made 231 Calls for Justice. It also concluded that the acts of violence against Indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse people in Canada constitutes “genocide.” (NIMMIWG 2019). 
  • The National Inquiry also noted that traffickers “go so far as to station themselves outside group homes or places where they know these potential victims might be” (NIMMIWG 2019: 661). Anti-trafficking efforts can target these same sites. 
  • Once women and girls are trafficked, it takes “an average of three years and seven attempts” to successfully exit trafficking (Tracia’s Trust 2019: 21). 
  • Because of negative experiences with police services, Indigenous women are often unwilling to report trafficking to the police (NIMMWG 2019: 629). It is important that Indigenous women and girls are recognized as victims and not blamed for the violence perpetrated against them.
  • In 2014 the Canadian Women’s Foundation (CWF) reported that an estimated 50 percent of trafficked women and 51 percent of trafficked girls are Indigenous (CWF 2014: 32). Another study estimated that in Manitoba, 70 percent of visibly sexually exploited people are Indigenous, and 80 percent are female (Tracia’s Trust 2019). 
  • In 2004, the majority of Canada’s human trafficking networks were located in the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick (CISC 2004). In 2018, the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls also noted organized networks operating in “city triangles” in the Prairies, including networks between Saskatoon, Regina and Winnipeg, and between Calgary, Edmonton, and Saskatoon (NIMMIWG 2019: 565).
  • Indigenous women and girls, new immigrants, youth experiencing homelessness, and children in care are targeted by trafficking, because they are “socially and economically disadvantaged” (Government of Canada 2012: 6). In a process called ‘grooming,’ young women and girls are targeted and lured through strategic manipulation and false promises. 

Emily Hanlon, senior policy advisor for VP-MMIWG, NWAC, commented, “Working with Truckers Against Trafficking has been both instructive and an absolute pleasure. Their approach changes hearts and minds and leads to action, and these are the kinds of people we want to work with! Their practical approach meant that our work together has been productive in so many ways. It’s been a pleasure and an honor to work with TAT, and we look forward to working with them in whatever ways we can!”

As a result of this partnership, NWAC has also introduced TAT to the following Canadian organizations who will help to inform TAT’s counter-trafficking efforts in Canada: Ma Mawi, the British Columbia Society of Transition Homes, Robson Valley Community Services and the Commercial Vehicle Security Enforcement.
Addressing Demand Watch Party provided resources
for greater understanding
More than 60 people tuned into Facebook on March 18 for TAT’s first Addressing Demand Watch Party. The event included viewing TAT’s informative video addressing the demand for commercial sex and how it relates to human trafficking, followed by an open discussion moderated by Louie Greek, TAT training specialist, and Alan Smyth, executive director of Saving Innocence.

“I believe the event was successful in encouraging men to combat human trafficking by having the conversation to address the demand for commercial sex. Following the video, viewers dove deeply into the issue of what drives modern-day slavery, and then we discussed the steps guys can take, both personally and within their communities, to protect the most vulnerable,” Greek shared. “I have received emails from human trafficking task forces and community organizations interested in starting an ‘addressing demand’ campaign in their local communities.”

Smyth added, “If we can admit that men are the problem in the demand for commercial sex, then we are halfway there. Now we can be a part of the solution.”

One viewer commented, “I was brought up with the Neanderthal mentality. In my dating years it carried over. It wasn't until years later, when I got involved in law enforcement, that I saw how misconstrued my younger years had been.”

Another viewer said, “Thank you, guys!! You give me hope for a brighter future!”
Greek and Smyth shared a number of resources for people wanting to educate others as well as dive deeper themselves:

Greek concluded, “If we want to protect our daughters, we need to have conversations with our sons.”
Justice Seekers series wraps up with final session
focused on the social impact of buyers
TAT concluded its popular Justice Seekers series in mid-March, with the final session focused on buyer characteristics and behavior. The series, featuring expert panelists, was designed to deepen the understanding about victims of human trafficking. It also provided prosecutors and members of law enforcement practical steps on engaging with victims, best practices for undercover operations and case studies of human trafficking investigations.

In total, Justice Seekers conducted 10 events, with 1453 people either attending the sessions or receiving training through the recordings. Topics ranged from undercover human trafficking ops, human trafficking investigations, employing a victim-centered approach and bridging the gap with victims to rules of the game, the dos and don’ts of working with victims, types of traffickers and sex trafficking, buyers as discussed by a survivor leaders panel, demand-reduction operations as discussed by a law enforcement panel and types of buyers and their social impact.

Feedback from attendees was positive throughout the series, with comments like:
  • “Just wanted to say thank you. You guys rocked this! Would love to have this presentation back in Minnesota!” Bobbi Jo Pazdernik, Minnesota Bureau for Criminal Apprehension, Commander of the Minnesota Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force
  • “Another GREAT presentation by TAT! Very informative about the different tactics being used by law enforcement agencies around the country. It sounds like ‘buying in’ to the victim-centered approach is critical to the success of human trafficking law enforcement operations … also having all your bases covered, such as how you’re going to deal with buyers, the traffickers and, most importantly, the victims, when planning and executing an operation.” Kimberly Hill, Indiana State Police

“We are thrilled to know that the recordings of our sessions are being passed along to other law enforcement officers and law enforcement academies throughout the nation,” TAT Deputy Director Kylla Leeburg said. “We've been told that several of them have been added into law enforcement academy curriculum as well as used as ongoing training for transportation enforcement professionals. We know that with more and deeper information on different aspects of human trafficking, law enforcement officers will be able to identify victims and perpetrators more readily, and people can be recovered out of this life.”
Trailblazers event highlighted innovative approaches being taken
to combat human trafficking statewide
Open to a select group of key stakeholders, including representatives from Attorney Generals’ offices, state police, law enforcement leaders and representatives from state human trafficking task forces, TAT’s virtual Trailblazers event drew an audience of 116 interested in learning about innovative approaches to combating human trafficking statewide.

Panelists included:
  • Alison Phillips, director of the Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force for the Missouri Attorney General's Office, who shared about their Landlord Education Program (LEP), which is working to put illicit massage businesses out of commission.
  • Lieutenant Monty Lovelace, Nebraska State Patrol Carrier Enforcement Division, who described the extensive public-private partnerships they’ve forged to activate applicable stakeholders in anti-trafficking initiatives. 
  • Bureau Chief Jay Levenstein, Commerical Vehicle and Driver Services, Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, who spoke to the creation of their Highway Heroes Program, a model designed to reach every CDL holder in their state with the anti-trafficking message. 

All three programs are highly replicable and have yielded concrete results in successfully fighting human trafficking in their state. During the one-hour session, panelists discussed implementation methods, key partner involvement and successful outcomes. They also provided a one-page paper with details and steps for replication.

Survey results following the event revealed:
  • 93 percent were interested in implementing one or more of these programs in their state.
  • 98 percent learned something new.
  • 100 percent would like to attend another event like this in the future. 

Representative comments from participants included this remark from Christina Bain, director of the Initiative on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery at Babson College: “Thank you so much for this dynamic session and for your incredible efforts!”

“We were really pleased to see such a high turnout for this event” Esther Goetsch, TAT Coalition Build director and one of the event’s organizers, said. “It really underscores the importance of collaboration across the public and private sectors and the interest states have in developing successful statewide strategies to battle human trafficking.”
April 2021 Calendar of Events
April 7 – Midwest virtual truck stop training, FDP virtual tour, Louie Greek, TAT training specialist, and Annika Huff, TAT training specialist and survivor-leader, presenting
April 7 – New Mexico virtual law enforcement and prosecutor training, Kylla Lanier, TAT deputy director, presenting
April 15 – Starfish Ministries, Loveland, CO, 6-8 p.m., (MT) Louie Greek, TAT training specialist, presenting
April 16 -- Hewlett Packard Enterprise HoPE Virtual Volunteer Day, Laura Cyrus, TAT corporate engagement director, presenting
April 20 – Fleet Safety Council Canada, Southwestern Ontario, Liz Williamson, TAT training specialist and survivor-leader, presenting
April 21 – National Interstate Safety Workshop, Nashville, TN, Laura Cyrus, TAT corporate engagement director, presenting
April 21 – California Association for Coordinated Transportation virtual conference, 12:30 p.m. (PT) plenary session, followed by panel, Annie Sovcik, BOTL director, and Liz Williamson, TAT training specialist and survivor-leader, presenting, and virtual FDP tour
April 21 – Without Permission virtual event, 2:10-4:45 p.m. (PT), Louie Greek, TAT training specialist, and Liz Williamson, TAT training specialist and survivor-leader, presenting
April 22 – National Interstate Safety Workshop, Nashville, TN, Laura Cyrus, TAT corporate engagement director, presenting
April 22 – ConocoPhillips virtual Utah Employee Forum, Ashley Smith, TAT energy operations director, presenting
April 28 – ConocoPhillips virtual Wyoming Employee Forum, Ashley Smith, TAT energy operations director, presenting
April 28 – Alaska DOT virtual law enforcement training, Kylla Lanier, TAT deputy director, and Annika Huff, TAT training specialist and survivor-leader, presenting
April 29 – Waterloo Police Department training, Ontario, Canada, Kylla Lanier, TAT deputy director, presenting
Thank you to our copper level and above individual donors!
Runbeck/Mowat Fund
Douglas Kegler
Jonathan and Jill Lim, Bob Paris, Andy and Karin Larsen, Diane Reed
Lou and Ronda Leeburg, Scott and Terry Koch, Anna McCoy, Anne Namuth
Mark and Julie Mihevc, Chris Ripani, Stephanie Guindy, Amy Reitmar
George Cravens, Patti Gillette, Linda Burtwistle, John McKown, Ken Johnson, Mike and Karen Kuykendall, Sarah Roark, Matthew Bleach, Kent Marshall, Lindsey England, Rich McArdle, Don Blake, Scott Perry, Grinnell Family, Mr. and Mrs. Lee Turner, Amber Throckmorton, Dan and Emily Dykstra