“Know Human Trafficking” panel at TTSAO Feb. 22 to focus on Trucking industry support

Samantha Clarke, Commercial Driver Solutions Manager for Knowledge Surge/DriveWise, encourages the entire Trucking industry to support programs to end human trafficking. Photo: RWN

“We are the ones who see the girls at the truck stops; they knock on our windows late at night. I never thought about it much; I always thought they were doing it because they wanted to. It never occurred to me they were being forced to do it – now, we know better.”  

–Retired Trucker, who requested his name not be used

“It’s absolutely heart-wrenching,” Samantha Clarke of DriveWise Canada says of human trafficking. “I’m a mother, a sister, and an aunt – it is just heartbreaking to know about the situations girls as young as 12 can get caught up in.”

Clarke represents DriveWise on the board of the Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada (WTFC) and will be one of the panelists on the “Human Trafficking Awareness” panel at the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario (TTSAO) conference February 22nd. Along with Crossroads and Transcourt Tank Leasing, DriveWise is an Ambassador the WTFC-supported “Know Human Trafficking” program.

“I have boys, but boys can still get wrapped up in this; and, they should also know the signs, to help protect girls,” Clarke points out.

In fact, that plain and practical statement may summarize one of the fundamental principles of “Know Human Trafficking” and explain why the Trucking industry is uniquely well-positioned to support the agencies working to raise awareness of Human Trafficking, and eventually, to end it.

As one retired Trucker told RWN, “We are the ones who see the girls at the truck stops; they knock on our windows late at night. I never thought about it much; I always thought they were doing it because they wanted to. It never occurred to me they were being forced to do it – now, we know better.”  

Justice Canada notes that “Human trafficking is often characterized as a ‘“’low risk/high reward activity’”’ because of the fact that the crime is clandestine, therefore difficult to detect and investigate, which contributes to the relatively low prosecution rates worldwide. Victims can be exploited over and over for the financial or material benefit of the traffickers making this crime lucrative. The United Nations (UN) has estimated that this illegal activity generates approximately $32 billion (US) annually for its perpetrators.”

Moderated by WTFC’s CEO Shelley Walker, the panel at TTSAO will consist of Clarke, of KnowledgeSurge/Drivewise; Laura Dickenson from Day & Ross Whilna Stewart-Franklin of UPS;  and Heather Mawhinney from the Kriska Group.

The panel will take place from 1pm to 2pm on February 22nd, and will be concluded with a special announcement.

"Human trafficking is one of the most heinous crimes imaginable, often described as modern-day slavery. This crime robs its victims of their most basic human rights and is occurring in Canada and worldwide. “The victims, who are mostly women and children, are deprived of their normal lives and compelled to provide their labour or sexual services, through a variety of coercive practices all for the direct profit of their perpetrators. Exploitation often occurs through intimidation, force, sexual assault and threats of violence to themselves or their families."
--The Honourable Vic Toews, Canada's Public Safety Minister, 2012

According to Peel Regional Police, the following are signs that could be indicators but are not explicit confirmations that someone is a survivor of human trafficking. Survivors often display a combination of the following signs and may be indicators that someone is being groomed or is already being exploited:

Attitude

  • Withdrawn from family and friends.
  • Becoming secretive about who they are with and where they are going.
  • Owning expensive items and clothing that they cannot afford or explain.
  • Owning more than one cellphone.

Behavioural

  • Protective and secretive about new boyfriend/girlfriend.
  • Coming home later than usual without explanation.
  • Having moods swings or change in attitude. 
  • Signs of malnutrition – causing weight loss.

Physical

  • Shows visible signs of physical abuse – unexplained injuries, bruises, cigarette burns and/or cuts.
  • Visible signs of branding/scarring as a symbol of ownership by the trafficker such as tattooing.

If you or someone you know requires support related to human trafficking , the following are some helpful community resources: Safe Centre of Peel , Human Trafficking National Coordination Centre , Peel Police Resources.