City of Kelowna partners with Not In My City to combat human trafficking, sexual exploitation

Click to play video: 'Kelowna has been identified as a destination within a known human trafficking circuit'
Kelowna has been identified as a destination within a known human trafficking circuit
Kelowna has been identified as a destination within a known human trafficking circuit – May 25, 2023

Not In My City.

That’s the name of an awareness campaign aimed at highlighting, and preventing, human trafficking and youth sexual exploitation.

On Thursday, the City of Kelowna issued a statement saying it and three other local agencies are partnering with Not In My City.

“Unfortunately, the Okanagan Valley is not immune to human trafficking,” Kelowna’s mayor, Tom Dyas, said in a press release.

“It is important we work with our partners and come together to raise awareness and provide educational resources for our community as first steps to begin to tackle this distressing issue in our region.”

Click to play video: 'Human trafficking warning signs'
Human trafficking warning signs

Also partnering with Not In My City are the Kelowna RCMP, Kelowna International Airport (YLW) and the Kelowna Child Advocacy Centre.

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According to the city, Kelowna has been identified as a destination within a known human trafficking circuit in Western Canada, where victims as young as 13 years of age are being sexually exploited.

The city added that human trafficking is one of the fastest-growing crimes in Canada and is the second-largest source of illegal income worldwide.

“In Canada, 21 per cent of trafficking victims are under the age of 18,” said the city. “While making up only four per cent of the country’s population, approximately 50 per cent of Canada’s trafficking victims are Indigenous people.”

Click to play video: 'Desperation fuels human smuggling at St. Lawrence River'
Desperation fuels human smuggling at St. Lawrence River

The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking says human traffickers use transportation corridors frequently, and that once a victim has been recruited, they’ll be often moved from city to city to maximize profits, access new markets, avoid competition and detection by police.

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“We have trained our front-line police officers to look for the signs of human trafficking and exploitation, and to ask the questions when things don’t appear as they should,” said RCMP Insp. Beth McAndie.

“We are grateful to be partnered on this important awareness campaign to shine a light on these activities and strengthen our community through partnership.”

The city says YLW partnered with Not In My City in 2021 and implemented a mandatory training program to help employees identify and respond to signs of human trafficking.

The city says, to date, more than 600 employees at YLW have completed this training.

Click to play video: 'The Reality of Human Trafficking in Nova Scotia'
The Reality of Human Trafficking in Nova Scotia

“As B.C.’s second-busiest airport, it is important for us to provide this training to employees working at YLW so we can do our part in recognizing when human trafficking victims pass through our airport and take appropriate action,” said Sam Samaddar, Kelowna International Airport director.

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“When it comes to addressing and suppressing human trafficking, awareness and education are a priority,” said Paul Brandt, founder and CEO of Not In My City.

“We are pleased to work alongside Kelowna International Airport staff and partners. An effective response to human trafficking requires collective action from the entire community, and these critical community partners are leading the way by example. We welcome them to our robust and growing network of allies across Canada.”

In Canada, anyone who witnesses human trafficking or sexual exploitation, or is experiencing it, can call the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-833-900-1010. If anyone is in immediate danger, the city recommends calling 9-1-1.

For more about Not In My City, visit their website.

Click to play video: 'New report highlights ‘labour trafficking’ in Canada'
New report highlights ‘labour trafficking’ in Canada

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