Human Trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes in Canada (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) with 93 per cent of Canada’s trafficking victims coming from Canada. Not In My City is an initiative, championed by humanitarian and country music star, Paul Brandt, geared toward raising awareness and collective action on Human Trafficking in Calgary, Alberta and moving across Canada with a focus on Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking. Not In My City has been working over the past 15 months with community partners to bring awareness and collective action to this issue. In July 2017, the Not In My City initiative hosted an awareness event in Calgary bringing more than 400 individuals from Calgary, provincially and nationally to understand the devastating impact of this crime. Since that time, substantial progress has been made in bringing key stakeholders together to engage, commit and collectively build an action plan to prevent and end sexual exploitation and sex trafficking.
2. Phase One - Charting the way forward: The consultation and engagement process
Following the strong and unified community response in the early months to the mission of Not In My City, a decision was made by Paul Brandt and his Advisory team to put in place a process to consult with community partners to ensure that “going forward”, strategies would be collaborative, intentional and impact. Bonnie Johnston was engaged to do this work. Her background includes: senior level management roles with Health, Social Services and Government having served as the Director for the Alberta Children’s Hospital, CEO for Child and Family Services in the Calgary region for a number of years and most recently completed her five year commitment as the inaugural CEO of the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre -- recognized as the largest and most comprehensive child advocacy centre in Canada. Her work is focused on collaborative leadership, strategic systems thinking and integrated cross sector leading practices having just returned from New Zealand where she was asked to review their Child Advocacy Centre in Auckland in comparison to international best practice.
Mid-October to January 2018:
Meetings occurred with many individuals who provided expertise and perspective on the issue of Human Trafficking from the National, Provincial and Regional levels. This included consultation with senior individuals from the Provincial Government in Alberta, City officials, First Nations, representatives from the sectors of Police, Justice, Children’s Services, Health, Education and not for profit community agencies who provide direct services to individuals impacted by sexual exploitation and trafficking. The intent of this process was to: understand what programs, services and legislation are effective; identify barriers and challenges; define what additional supports and resources are required within the community; and identify what needs to be done differently and more effectively at the community, organizational and government levels. Key learnings from this extensive process included:
▪ Definition of human trafficking is not clear. Confusing and open to interpretation.
▪ Difficult to systematically quantify actual incidence of human trafficking.
▪ Need to increase community awareness and engagement.
▪ Need to review the effectiveness of the Protection of Sexually Exploited Children Act (PSECA).
▪ Need to provide an integrated response and continuity of care among agencies at regional and provincial levels.
▪ Engagement with Indigenous populations.
▪ Focus on early intervention strategies.
▪ Identify populations that need more training and create new training opportunities.
▪ Access to mental health and addiction services.
▪ Need for research and the establishment of leading practices.
Engagement with Sector Representatives and Key Stakeholders:
In mid-January 2018, Not In My City met with senior representatives form the sectors of Police, Justice, Children’s Services, Health, Education, First Nations, City of Calgary, and one of the Provincial Government Ministries to review and validate information obtained through the consultation process, discuss priorities and map out a collaborative strategy for moving forward. This was followed up by a Planning Session at the end of February 2018. The meeting represented the first time all systems had been in the same room to discuss this issue, the impact on vulnerable individuals and the responsibility to work together in developing a collective action plan across organizations in partnership with the community.
3. Phase Two - identification and mobilization of five strategic directions
From information obtained in the planning session and consultation process, a decision was made that the work of Not In My City, will target Sexual Exploitation/Sex Trafficking focusing on Prevention/Early Intervention strategies. Five Strategic Directions have been identified:
1. Understanding the Scope and Extent of the Problem - Identifying and evaluation existent data and information within Calgary and the surrounding area.
2. Enhancing Integrated Services for High-Risk Youth - Supporting and strengthening integrated wrap-around services with a focus on youth who are identified at risk and require services under the Protection of Sexually Exploited Children Act. Youth will receive the full continuum of care they require to heal, move forward and led healthy and productive lives.
3. Engaging with and Supporting First Nations - Working in partnership with First Nations to understand and support how this issue can be addressed within communities.
4. Building Awareness and Community Action - Engaging and informing the community about sexual exploitation/sex trafficking. Taking collective responsibility to protect our children and youth and know what to do if we suspect anyone is being exploited or harmed.
5. Advancing Leading Practices - Working in collaboration with regional partners, First Nations and other jurisdictions to continually improve outcomes through evidence-based practice in education, training and victim services.
Work is currently underway in developing an Operation Plan with strategies and outcomes for each of the Strategic Directions.
▪ A High Risk Youth working group has been formed with key stakeholders to understand what current services are currently in place, opportunities to leverage/streamline and areas requiring additional support and resources. By providing an integrated wrap a round approach for our high risk youth, our intent is to ensure they are able to move forward to lead healthy, productive lives versus continuing on a path of further harm.
▪ A Consultation gathering is being planned to meet with First Nations to start the conversation and process on what this issue means for First Nations and how we can collectively create a respective and supportive working partnership to effectively address this issue within their communities. Currently within Canada, there is gross over-representation of Indigenous people in human trafficking cases. Although they only make up 4% of Canada’s population, they make up over 50% of sex trafficking victims. They are over represented and under served with a direct link to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Girls and Women with Canada.
▪ Not In My City will host their second event in Calgary on June 20th to continue to bring awareness and community action to the issue of Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking.
▪ On June 20th, as well, a press conference will be held announcing the partnership between the Calgary Airport Authority and Not In My City.
▪ Work is currently underway to build out strategies for the five Strategic Directions. It is the initiative's strong belief that it will take a “whole community” involving passionate individuals, commiled and innovative organizations, corporate champions and all levels of government working together to bring about transformational and sustainable change at the grassroots, prac9ce, policy and legisla9ve levels.