THUNDER BAY — Thunder Bay Airport has joined a program aimed at preventing human trafficking.
The airport authority announced Wednesday that it is partnering with #NotInMyCity to educate and raise stakeholder and community awareness about human trafficking in aviation.
#NotInMyCity, founded by Canadian country music artist Paul Brandt, describes itself as a facilitative organization that raises awareness and takes collective action to prevent, disrupt and end sexual exploitation and trafficking, focusing on children and youth.
Human trafficking and sexual exploitation are the fastest-growing crimes in Canada. Twenty-one per cent of trafficking victims are under the age of 18. Although Indigenous people make up only four per cent of the population, they constitute 50 per cent of trafficking victims in Canada.
Thunder Bay Airport will implement an e-learning and awareness program with multiple objectives:
- Provide all airport employees and stakeholders with knowledge and awareness about sexual exploitation and human trafficking in Canada with #NotInMyCity’s aviation focused e-learning platform. Members of the public are invited to learn more about the issue by taking a free e-learning course found at www.notinmycity.ca.
- Allow airport employees to understand the signs of human trafficking, and knowing what to do if they suspect trafficking.
- Implement informational signage and materials throughout the airport for all stakeholders and travelling public.
- Report any and all signs of human trafficking, without causing harm.
Airport CEO Ed Schmidtke said joining the effort to combat human trafficking is "simply the right thing to do."
Schmidtke said he appreciates the immediate response received from frontline security and airline staff to educate themselves about the potential warning signs of human trafficking.
"We are thrilled that Thunder Bay Airport reached out to us for our support," said Kris Carlson of the Thunder Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking.
"We are happy to support and offer local resources alongside #NotInMyCity."
The coalition is a cross-sectoral partnership that was established in 2018. Thunder Bay Police Det. Insp. Jeremy Pearson said the police service supports the initiative.
"The ability to identify potential human trafficking victims and then share this information is a critical step to protect vulnerable persons," Pearson added.
The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking notes that transportation corridors are frequently used by traffickers.
Once a victim has been recruited, traffickers often move them from city to city to maximize profits and avoid competition.
This also helps keep control of the victim, who may not know where they are or how to get help.
In Thunder Bay, anyone can call the local human trafficking unit at 807-684-1239 if they believe they are witnessing or are experiencing human trafficking or sexual exploitation.