‘Unprecedented’ research finds human trafficking unreported in city
Domestic and international human trafficking happens in Calgary, according to newly released research co-authored by a Mount Royal University professor.
Human Trafficking in Calgary: Informing a Localized Response reports close to half of the 54 front-line workers surveyed have come into contact with a potential victim of human trafficking.
The surprise finding has left co-author John Winterdyk calling for more awareness.
“We have a human rights issue in our own backyard that receives nominal attention,” he said. ‘‘The report is a vehicle that demonstrates there needs to be a greater awareness and greater support to combating this issue.’’
To date, there’s never been a successful prosecution of a human trafficking case in Alberta, Winterdyk said, adding there’s only been four or five successful cases in Canada over the past decade.
Based on research, there may be dozens of cases in Calgary.
However, it’s tough to find concrete evidence. Winterdyk said victims hesitate to seek help, fearing threats to their personal and family security.
“Victims are extremely reluctant to come forward because there’s considerable risk,” Winterdyk said.
The report is being billed as an unprecedented attempt to study how a major Canadian city is addressing the needs of trafficked persons. The university’s Centre for Criminology and Justice Research teamed up with the Action Coalition on Human Trafficking to survey law enforcement, government and social agencies.
Canada is seen to be mostly a country of destination for trafficking, but its “porous” border also makes it a place of transit to the U.S.