OBAC and 'TruckSTOP campaign' team up to expose human trafficking in Canada

By Sandi Soendker, Land Line editor-in-chief | Monday, October 29, 2012

Inspired by the U.S.-based Truckers Against Trafficking, or TAT, a small mostly volunteer group in Ontario has been pushing the message of human trafficking in Canada. The group is bringing truckers on-board the mission, and together they hope to engage others to help expand the outreach to more provinces.

PACT-Ottawa – Persons Against the Crime of Trafficking in Humans – teamed up earlier this year with the Owner-Operator’s Business Association of Canada. OBAC Executive Director Joanne Ritchie explains that the initiative known as the TruckSTOP campaign is a pilot project aimed at raising awareness about human trafficking among frequent travelers and members of the trucking industry.

Funded in part by Public Safety Canada, the initiative is pushing for a broader reach in Canada, where the whole issue has been thought by many to be neglected.

“Our government is very slow to recognize the whole issue of human trafficking. It wasn’t even a criminal activity here until like 2005,” says Ritchie.

She says she was made aware of PACT-Ottawa through a local news story and contacted them.

“Truckers are the eyes and ears of the road, of course,” says Ritchie. “So PACT-Ottawa was thrilled to hear from us.”

Ritchie says PACT-Ottawa were aware of the success of Truckers Against Trafficking in the U.S. and had been in contact with TAT, but knew little about how to go about engaging truckers.

“We helped them launch their new ‘TruckSTOP’ campaign in April at Truck World, where PACT-Ottawa’s Kim Howson joined us to introduce the program to drivers,” she said. They handed out more than 400 CDs, and then PACT took a road trip to distribute posters and more CDs to truck stops in southern Ontario.

OBAC’s website now has a link to a survey that is designed to help PACT-Ottawa’s determine the effectiveness of the campaign.

Ritchie says it’s important that Canadian truckers participate in the survey and provide feedback on how the TruckSTOP campaign can improve its info network and better engage the trucking industry.

“Your information will be treated as strictly confidential,” says Ritchie. “No name is necessary, and any data pertaining to any specific respondent will not be identified or published.”

Ritchie says the survey takes about 10 minutes to complete. The online survey will probably be on OBAC’s website through the end of the first week in November.

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