It’s Human Trafficking Awareness Day, so let’s talk about it  
Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking

It’s Human Trafficking Awareness Day, so let’s talk about it  

Human trafficking is a crime that thrives in darkness—a lack of reporting, understanding and education allow it to stay there. 

Last year, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guteres said that despite the “heinous violation of fundamental human rights and freedoms” that is human trafficking, the issue was getting “not nearly enough attention”. 

“A central challenge we must acknowledge in the fight against human trafficking, is that lifting the veil of silence that allows oppressive behaviour to flourish is a difficult and trying task,” reads a 2019 Human Trafficking Needs Assessment from Family Services of Peel. The document exposed for the first time just how prevalent human trafficking really is in Peel Region and what needs to be done to combat it and help survivors. “Lack of understanding regarding the scope and severity of sex trafficking has contributed to its dramatic rise and intervention is desperately needed.”

With Canada’s national Human Trafficking Awareness Day today (February 22), the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking is providing a new tool to do just that and get people talking about human trafficking. The Centre—Canada’s national charity dedicated to ending all forms of trafficking—is launching a new guide to help Canadians start conversations about human trafficking and assist families who may fear a loved one is being exploited. 

The new resource is appropriately titled “It’s Time to T.A.L.K.”


According to police-reported data, human trafficking has been steadily increasing over the last decade. However, this data only provides a snapshot of the scope of the true problem.

(Statistics Canada) 


According to data from the Centre, 74 percent of Canadians believe sex trafficking is prevalent in Canada, but more than 70 percent admit they have never had a conversation with a friend or family member about how to protect themselves against trafficking. Only 15 percent of those surveyed by the Centre felt confident in their knowledge about the issue to start a conversation.

“Traffickers exploit this lack of education and awareness to target unsuspecting youth and ensure their crimes go unnoticed in our communities,” reads a press release from the Centre announcing the new downloadable resource. 

With statistics, conversation prompts and dos and don’ts, the new resource can help bridge the gap for people who need assistance starting these difficult discussions.

“They have no idea where to start,” Julia Drydyk, the executive director of the Centre told The Pointer’s Ballot Vox podcast. “They don’t quite understand the issue, they can’t wrap their head around it, they don’t know how to broach the subject, they have no idea there are actually resources available to them.”

So, let’s TALK about it.  


T - Teach yourself about sex trafficking

From the different stages of trafficking (luring, grooming, manipulation, coercion and exploitation) to the differences between human smuggling and trafficking, to picking through the myriad of misconceptions that exist about the topic, it’s crucial to understand what human trafficking really is. Human sex trafficking is rarely how it appears in the movies. Rarely does it involve women being snatched up off the streets, chained to a radiator and sold into the sex trade. According to Statistics Canada data, between 2012 and 2022, of the nearly 4,000 victims and survivors of human trafficking that came forward to police, 91 percent of them were trafficked by someone they knew, one-third of them by an intimate partner.

“It looks way more like domestic or intimate partner violence than it looks like a random act of kidnapping or violence,” Drydyk says. 


A - Approach the Conversation with Care

It’s not about scripting the conversation, but ensuring it takes place in a space that is judgement-free. The Centre recommends starting the discussion around topics of consent, healthy versus toxic relationships and self-worth. Discussing these topics is crucial to creating barriers against tactics used by traffickers to exploit a person’s vulnerabilities. 

“That could be anything from low self-esteem, problems at home, problems at school, it could also involve issues of poverty (or) substance use. Then they love bomb the individual. They try and find out their greatest dreams and aspirations and their fears,” Drydyk explains.

Then they use those things against them. 


(Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking)


The resource created by the Centre in consultation with survivors of human trafficking offers entry points into these conversations for those looking to discuss it with a friend or loved one, or how to approach the issue if you believe the person may be in the midst of being exploited. 

Numerous studies have found that a lack of trust, stigma, and feelings of shame or embarrassment keep victims and survivors from coming forward, so ensuring they know it is a safe space to talk is absolutely critical. 

“If we’re going to deal with human trafficking, we also need to create a world where every young person, regardless of what they’ve gone through or been coerced into doing, knows that they are loved, that they matter, that there’s nothing that they could do that would make them not deserving of love and appreciation,” Drydyk says. “We need to be addressing this issue with our whole hearts.”


L - Listen and Adapt

These conversations are not easy, and many people have no idea even how to begin, or are afraid to. 

“I think people are afraid to have the conversation because they don’t know what’s going to happen on the other side of the door,” Drydyk says. 

If someone is unwilling to talk, ensure they understand the lines of communication are open should they wish to speak again. The Centre also has a plethora of resources available should this conversation lead to the revelation that someone you love is already being trafficked. 

Studies have found that one of the main resources survivors and victims require when they escape their trafficker is mental health services and counselling due to the significant trauma they endure. So it's imperative for the person they first open up to to understand the critical position they are in with someone who is incredibly fragile. The first step is telling them you believe them, and there is help available. 


Listen to Julia Drydyk, executive director of the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking, discuss the TALK campaign and more on The Pointer’s Ballot Vox Podcast.


K - Know There is Help Available 

The Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline—launched in May 2019 as part of the most recent Canadian national strategy approved the same year—operates 24 hours a day 365 days a year, offering services in more than 200 languages. It is independent of police or government, can be accessed via phone, chat, webform and email, and callers are able to remain anonymous.

Between 2019 and 2022 the hotline received 12,706 calls, through which they identified 1,500 cases of human trafficking and 2,170 victims and survivors of human trafficking. These victims and survivors accounted for the primary group of callers, approximately 37 percent. 

“The second biggest group is friends and family members so we know there is a real need to engage all Canadian on this issue,” Drydyk says. 


For more information visit -

For the new TALK resource visit -



Email: [email protected]

At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories to ensure every resident of Brampton, Mississauga and Niagara has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you

Submit a correction about this story