YLW, City, RCMP, Kelowna Child Advocacy Centre tackle human trafficking: Join #NotInMyCity
The City of Kelowna, Kelowna International Airport (YLW), Kelowna RCMP and Child Advocacy Centre are partnering with #NotInMyCity to raise awareness about human trafficking and sexual exploitation of youth in the Okanagan.
“Unfortunately, the Okanagan Valley is not immune to human trafficking,” said Mayor Tom Dyas. ”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.”
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.
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. While making up only four per cent of the country’s population, approximately 50 per cent of Canada’s trafficking victims are Indigenous people.
“We have trained our frontline 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 Inspector Beth McAndie, Investigative Services Officer, Kelowna Regional Detachment. “We are grateful to be partnered on this important awareness campaign to shine a light on these activities and strengthen our community through partnership.”
According to the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking, transportation corridors are frequently used by traffickers, and once a victim has been recruited, traffickers will often move them from city to city to maximize profits, access new markets and avoid competition. Moving them often keeps control of the victim who may not know where they are or how to get help, making it easier for traffickers to evade detection by police. Victims of labour trafficking may also enter Canada by way of air travel, under the false promise of a job or educational opportunity.
In 2021, YLW partnered with #NotInMyCity to implement a mandatory training program designed specifically for individuals working in aviation, educating employees to identify and respond to signs of human trafficking.
"When it comes to addressing and suppressing human trafficking, awareness and education are a priority,” said Paul Brandt, Founder and CEO of #NotInMyCity. “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.”
To date, more than 600 employees at YLW have completed this training. As part of a public awareness campaign, YLW has posted signage in the airport to help victims receive assistance as they pass through our airport.
“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.
With the support of the Barry Lapointe Foundation, the Child Advocacy Centre of Kelowna has partnered with #NotInMyCity to bring a custom free e-learning course to Okanagan residents.
“The most powerful way to make a difference in this space is to build a strong, informed, and vigilant community,” said Ginny Becker, Executive Director, Child Advocacy Centre. “We have formed this partnership to bring that opportunity for learning into the community and we are grateful to our friends at #NotInMyCity for the extraordinary work they are doing to support learning and system change, and to our partners in this campaign for standing together to make a difference.”
In Canada, anyone can call the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-833-900-1010 if they believe they witness or are experiencing human trafficking or sexual exploitation.
Contact the Kelowna police services non-emergency phone number, 250-762-3300, for anyone requiring support in Kelowna.
If anyone is in immediate danger, it is recommended to call 9-1-1.
For more information about #NotInMyCity, visit notinmycity.ca.