Upcoming Campaign in Canada Aims to Raise Awareness, Rescue Victims
We want to take a moment as a partner to the trucking industry to highlight the upcoming three-day Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative taking place across Canada from Feb. 22 to 24.
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) is launching this vital awareness and outreach effort on the annual Human Trafficking Awareness Day in Canada. A similar event took place in the United States during January.
What is human trafficking?
According to the United Nations, human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of people through force, fraud or deception with the aim of exploiting them for profit.
Human traffickers often use violence or fraudulent employment agencies and fake promises of education and job opportunities to trick their victims. It is estimated there are 40 million victims of human trafficking globally.
Raising awareness across the highways
Traffickers often use highways to transport victims, so truck drivers moving in and out of rest stops, restaurants, and hotels are in a unique position to spot and report potential incidents of trafficking.
The CVSA-led Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative aims to educate drivers, motor carriers, and law enforcement officers about the signs to look for, and what to do if you suspect someone is being trafficked. CVSA is working with the Truckers Against Trafficking non-profit organization to distribute thousands of educational wallet cards and window decals during the three-day event.
According to Truckers Against Trafficking, commercial drivers have made more than 2,000 calls to its hotline over the past decade, helping to raise awareness of about 600 potential cases and 1,000 victims.
Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) launched in the United States in 2009 and expanded to Canada during 2019. These efforts picked up steam last year with the creation of the TAT Canada Committee (TCC), which brings together industry leaders, motor carriers, government transportation entities and anti-trafficking advocates. The first chair and co-chair of the committee was Heather Mewhinney and Caroline Blais of Kriska Transportation Group.
What are the warning signs?
- Someone who appears unaware of their whereabouts and is not in possession of their ID card or passport.
- Bruising and other physical trauma
- Branding or tattooing of a trafficker’s name (often on the neck)
- Restricted communication (not allowed to speak for themselves, or unable to come and go unrestricted)
- A van or other vehicle with multiple women in a mainly male area dropping women off and picking them up 15-20 minutes later.
Recommendations for drivers
TAT advises against truck drivers approaching potential traffickers themselves. Instead, they should collect details about vehicles and license plates, or even take pictures, if it is safe to do so. They should then call local law enforcement or the Canadian human trafficking hotline at 833-900-1010.
To find out what your local jurisdiction in Canada or the United States is doing to increase human trafficking awareness, contact the agency/department responsible for overseeing commercial motor vehicle safety.
About the author
VP Public Relations, ISAAC Instruments
Neil Abt, Vice President of Public Relations at ISAAC Instruments, is a veteran journalist with over 25 years of reporting experience, including 20 years spent covering the trucking industry. A graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., he began his career covering sports for The Washington Post, followed by a position in the newsroom of America Online (AOL) and then both reporting and leadership roles at Transport Topics and Fleet Owner. Neil is based out of Portland, Oregon.