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Human Trafficking Awareness

January has been recognized as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month since 2010. It is dedicated to bringing awareness to enslaved individuals and persons who’ve been trafficked all over the world. While exact statistics for human trafficking are difficult to collect, it is well known that Indigenous and First Nation communities are especially vulnerable to human trafficking.

Due to lack of resources and issues of jurisdiction dating back to the colonial era, Indigenous and First Nations communities across North America are bringing awareness to trafficked and enslaved persons through a grassroots movement called Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW). This has been expanded to include girls, two spirit and, in some instances, men.

The most important, and perhaps sensitive task is identifying victims and learning how to help. Key indicators of labor and sex trafficking include:

Similar to these, some red flags that may appear in relation to minors and children include:

It is recommended that you not approach a suspected trafficker or victim. Instead, it is vital to timely report any signs to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center by calling 1-888-373-7888 or texting “HELP” or “INFO” to 233733 (BEFREE). A tip can also be submitted on www.ice.gov/tips. 

Indigenous victims of human trafficking may feel fear or shame when speaking up about their situation. However, the only thing seen when opening up about abuse is strength.

It takes an army committed to learning, sharing, working and fighting to stop this scourge on our society.