Deputations for City of Toronto

These are some of the deputations written by our committee members for presentation before the Executive Council at the City of Toronto: Sheila Cardenas Hello my name is Sheila Cardenas and I stand before you as a mother and concerned citizen of Toronto. Human trafficking has become a prominent issue in our community and as a parent it is my obligation to keep my son educated about the harsh realities of this epidemic. This topic is not an easy one to discuss with a child but it’s a topic that our children need to be educated on. I am here today to support my son and our vision of seeing our city of Toronto- to be a slave free one. I have told my son that if he has a dream, he can make that dream a reality.  We can abolish modern day slavery in his lifetime. With that I give my son the floor. Thank you for your time Christopher Cardenas-Avila Hello my name is Christopher Cardenas-Avila. I am 12 years old and currently in grade 7. I go to St Cecilia catholic school.  I have been a committee member of Free-Them since 2010. I believe people in the city of Toronto should know the dangers of human trafficking and how it’s affecting our community today. I think if they know they will not only have the knowledge but can prepare themselves and be self-aware that these things are really happening. Why shouldn’t everyone learn? If they don’t know of these dangers in their community they won’t be ready in a real life scenario to help themselves and their community members. What if this happened to someone you cared about? Would you want to help them? Girls and boys as young as me are being lured and trafficked in our country because they don’t know better and don’t know how they can get help.  As a boy, this may not target me completely but boys need to learn to spread the message that hurting and buying humans is not right. I also think if we aren’t taught then we will never get the chance to learn. We know this is happening overseas but how many people in our country believe that it’s happening here. When I spoke to my class about this one day some kids were still skeptical. They said “Canada is a free country” but I explained to them on how many cases that my mom and free-them helped fund. I also had to explain this to my teacher because she couldn’t believe it. Why tell the citizens of Toronto that there is a murderer on the loose?  It’s so we could be safe and prepared. If we are aware about those sorts of things I think we deserve to be aware about human trafficking. What damage can be done? All this is doing is making us more aware that the world we live in today isn’t perfect like the movies. This however is good though because the more people educated the more people who are willing to help stop this huge problem. It should be mandatory for all city workers, public workers, guardians and parents of kids to be given some information or course to go over safety rules and things to be aware off. The city of Toronto has the power to use media influence to make changes.  Stuff that goes on media spreads like a virus. A silly video like gangam style has over a billion views on YouTube.  Why can’t the city of Toronto make a video about human trafficking and play it on tv to reach out to the masses.  We can make this go viral. We can stop human trafficking Before I leave I would like to end with a quote by Edmund burke The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil; is for good men to do nothing. Daphne Nissani I am a Free-them representative.   Thank you kindly to the executive committee for meeting with us today.   I will be addressing the issue of data. In order to know how to fight the crime, we have to get a clear idea of how the crime is infesting our city.    HT is a multi billion dollar industry, however, it’s challenging to collect data on this issue, due to its underground nature.  Victims are often reluctant to report the crime, and when they do there are challenges in clearly identifying them. There is no need to try and reinvent the wheel, so I will be referencing the key components of Statistics Canada’s study regarding data on HT. In order for data to be effective, it needs to be apples to apples.   The problem is, NGO’s and front line workers define HT in so many different ways.   So any data collected from them is non-comparable municipally, provincially, and federally. A clear definition of what HT is and includes, is the first thing to ensure accurate data.  One definition that is used through stats Canada.   Men, women, children can be bought, sold and forced to provide labour and services in the commercial sex trade, sweatshops, agriculture, domestic service, and other types of servitude, as well as forced to sell organs.    For the purpose of this discussion, a child is considered any person under the age of 18. There also needs to be a very clear distinction between HT and human smuggling.   However, it should not be forgotten that the vulnerability of a smuggled person could quickly lead to cases in HT. To collect data, a survey must be conducted on persons IDENTIFIED AND CONFIRMED by authorities as trafficked victims, with an assurance of complete anonymity for all victims and their family. Surveys must include details such as: Type of exploitation, international vs. domestic incidents, number of victims per incident, number of persons accused of Ht, number of prosecutions, number of convictions, profits generated by the trafficker, citizenship of victims, and citizenship of accused.    This type of detailed data will go a long way to determine the origin of the crime, and even things like the cost to the city per crime committed. Victims may come in contact with various officials, from police, to immigration officers.   There will need to be a way to ensure that double counting victim surveys does not occur.   Because the victim does come in contact with so many people post crime, there is a clear need to educate judges, lawyers, prosecutors, police, immigration officers, and border control on HT.   Due to The physical nature of the crime, many victims will be seeing doctors and nurses and various Medical personnel, and thus these professionals should not be overlooked in the training process. In order to track the root of the problem, the city of Toronto has to be proactive to create reliable data, by looking at indicators and trends.   By this I mean, how does the local sex industry contribute to HT both internationally and domestically, and how is the demand for cheap labour tied into HT.   How will large scale sporting events contribute to HT.   How will trends in hours of operations for businesses in the city lend to HT.   For example, how does the municipal licensing and standards board, view strip clubs vs. massage parlors.   If message parlors are not selling sex, why are they open till 3am?   The city of Toronto must also consider and review the connections to missing woman, missing children, and incidents of child pornography, as they are indirect indicators to HT both domestic and international.   After all, Canada is a leading source country for sex tourists. We all know how important a roll data plays in this issue, but without proper education, the correct data will not be ascertained.  Data isn’t a federal issue, not when 62.5% of cases of HT before the courts in Canada, came out of the GTA alone.   Toronto needs to take action, and not wait for other cities to try and test methods.   It needs to lead, not follow.   It needs to think creatively and out of the box to act on initiatives that will make this amazing city…. a slave free one. Becky Plugers The department of Justice states that Canada is believed to be primarily a destination country to which persons are trafficked. Most internationally trafficking victims into Toronto and surrounding areas are of Asian or European descent. Busy airports are natural distribution hubs for human trafficking, yet we fail to equip our airport personnel with appropriate training to understand human trafficking and to recognize victims Statistics Canada figures show that, of the 77 people charged in Canada with human trafficking between 2006 and 2011, 34 — almost half — were in Toronto. Which proves the significant need for training of Toronto’s authority figures, those involved in public safety, and those who are most likely to come in contact with victims. I understand that Pearson airport falls under Peel region, however it is still Toronto Airport, serving the majority or Torontonian. It is of significant importance that Toronto collaborates with the Peel region, taking dual responsibility for Pearson Airport regarding this growing crime. 25,930,363 people fly through Toronto Pearson airport annually; It is the largest Canadian airport. Toronto is also home to Porter airlines and Porter should also be recognized as a potential transit source for victims. Airport personnel are in many cases the first come into contact with internationally trafficked victims. US Congressman Chris Smith wrote, “It has come to my attention that airlines are being exploited as trafficking routes into the United States (I insert Canada). Women and children are being transported to lives of slavery in broad daylight, shrouded only by the lack of awareness or inaction of those around them.” An example of this is that Canada’s most vocal survivor, Timea Nagy, founder of Walk with Me Victim Services, came into Canada on 3 different accounts and yet our airport personnel failed to recognize her as a victim of this horrid crime. [free-them] is advising that Pearson Personnel receive training on this issue. We also recognize the longstanding relationship between Toronto and Canada’s Border Services, and they too must be highly educated on this issue. [free-them] is recommending the services of Airline Ambassadors International as a training organization for Toronto airport. Airline Ambassadors has a well-recognized training program already in place for airport personnel regarding Human Trafficking and recognizing its victims. Airline Ambassadors International has conducted 13 industry specific training’s for more than 1000 people in the travel industry and distributed 10,000 wallet cards to flight crew. They have done training at the San Francisco Airport, and on behalf of Delta Airlines. The have also trained many SABRE travel and tourism employees on this topic. I have been in contact with Nancy Rivard, the program president, and she has expressed a desire to extend training to Canadian Airports, as currently Canada has no training in place with regards to victim identification and human trafficking. Toronto can be a role model for all of Canada’s travel industry as they take the first steps to implement what could be a fundamental step in restricting the extent of human trafficking into Toronto and surrounding areas. Lori Folkerson My name is Lori Folkerson, and I am speaking on behalf of Free-them. Ten years ago when I was in University the crime that targeted the young females was “Ruffies/Rohypnol” the date rape drug.  The crime that is targeting the young females now is Human Trafficking and what is referred to as “the Game” Through Free-them I currently speak at schools and community groups on this issue and explain or teach them this scheme that seems to take young girls by surprise.  This past weekend I spoke at a faith community in Hamilton and the response I received was overwhelming, I had a number of people crying in the audience, in particular one man who feared for his children’s safety.  To have a grown man cry in front to me breaks my heart, but it also fuels my fire.  I suggested to him that his best line of defence was to maintain good relationships with his children.  But what do I say to those parents that don’t have good relationships with their children, or to the children that come from broken homes. When I speak at schools and to youth groups, they have no idea that this is happening in our cities, if they have heard about it, it has been through movies like “Taken” and that it only happens in countries far away and that it only happens to prostitutes who work street corners, when in fact we have had countless cases where the victim lives at home, school by day and performing forced sexual acts at night. This past weekend at a Super Bowl party I was talking with a mental health worker about this topic, and she admitted that the stories I was telling reflected one of her clients, she is positive that one of her clients is a victim of trafficking.  Trafficked Victims, don’t know they are being trafficked, or what trafficking is, what they do know is that they are in trouble and need help, and feel hopelessness and despair. The Toronto Police Service Sex Crimes Unit has a wonderful brochure on their website, it starts off by saying:
Have you met a guy who… Swept you off your feet ? Said he’d take care of you? Gave you everything you needed, no strings attached….at first?   Told you about an easy way to make quick money?    After a while, did things change?  Does he now…. Frighten you, tell you when and where to work?  Tell you how to dress?  Tell you what to say? Or what not to say?  Does he take all of your money? Control everything?  Is he abusive? Emotionally, physically or sexually. If you have answered “yes” to any of these questions and are looking for help, please call us.  We understand, We can help.  We’re here to help you make an informed decision.
These are the type of questions that need to be asked. And so my first recommendation to the City of Toronto on the topic of education is to have the Special Victims 24 hour hotline on the Toronto Home page, as well as a link to a Human Trafficking Online Resource centre.  The online resource centre would have information of what human trafficking is, what it looks like, where it is happening, and what type of help is available.  There would also be a list of various NGO’s committed to fighting this crime. Detective Marc Benallick of the Toronto Police Department says that there can never be enough information on Human Trafficking out there.  He praises Special Victims hotline, Crime Stoppers and all the front line workers who feed him large amounts of information that contribute to his many ongoing investigations within the Sex Crimes unit. My second recommendation is for all City Councillors to be educated on Human Trafficking. In the conclusion portion of the  Stats Canada Article 85-561-M, no.21:Towards the Development of a National Data Collection Framework to Measure Trafficking in Persons,  it was suggested that there needs to be an enhancement of Human Trafficking awareness through the use of training and handbooks to the essential services and health care providers.   With this in mind, a step in the right direction would be to have all the City Counsellors attend a training in this field, and to spread this knowledge to their staff.  It would also be ideal for all the City Counsellors to have a direct link to the Human Trafficking Awareness resource page on their personal city councillor websites, as well as further links to various NGO’s in this field.  As the eyes and ears of this city I strongly believe it would be beneficial for the City Counsellors to educate themselves on this matter. Det. Sgt. Craig Labaune of the Niagara Regional Police department has joined the fight against human trafficking he says this crime is against “vulnerable victims” and says it’s also a “ghost crime, whose nature, and how and where it is perpetuated allows it to remain almost invisible.” He hopes to make people aware of human traffickers “the characteristics, evolution, why it is here, how it goes virtually undetected, and why modern pop culture glamorizes it to young people.”  He is doing this by creating a specific type of curriculum which is set to soon be distributed to the schools in the Niagara District in hopes that he can educate our youth before they are subjected to this “ghost crime.” Det. Sgt. Craig Labaune has offered to share this curriculum with any group or city. Along with Det Sgt’s offer of shared education we also happen to have a weeklong training next month being organized by the Alliance Against Modern Day Slavery.  This month is Free-them February, to learn more about Human Trafficking you can access Free-them on all social media outlets, visit us at, sign up for our mailing list and take part in upcoming events or have us come out and speak to your community.  We would be happy to partner with you in the fight against Human Trafficking. Thank you for your time.