Today, motions calling for February 22 to be designated National Human Trafficking Awareness Day were put on notice in the Senate and House of Commons by Senator Dan Christmas and MP Arnold Viersen.
Senator Christmas and MP Viersen serve along with MP Christine Moore and MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette as co-chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) to End Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking.
The date reflects the unanimous adoption of former MP Joy Smith’s Motion M-153 on February 22, 2007 by the House of Commons to condemn human trafficking. In 2017, the province of Ontario also designated February 22 as Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
“Dealing with the scourge of modern slavery and human trafficking is a matter of great importance to this country. We’re working to be certain our communities and our families remain safe. That’s why we’re taking this step to increase awareness of human trafficking so that Canadians can begin to have the tools necessary to overcome these challenges to peoples’ safety and wellbeing.”
- Senator Dan Christmas
“We recognize that one of the most critical steps in fighting this form of modern slavery is awareness. Whether it’s forced labour or sex trafficking, human trafficking exists across our country and a national awareness day will help equip Canadians to identify trafficking and end it in their communities.”
- MP Arnold Viersen, Peace River – Westlock
“Human trafficking in all forms hurts our communities as a whole. All actions taken to raise awareness on the issue help Manitobans, and all Canadians, take action in order to completely eradicate it from our country.”
- MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette, Winnipeg Centre
“One out of three runaways is a victim of exploitation. Every year, there are over 5,000 cases of missing children reported in Quebec. Runaways account for nearly 90% of all these cases and involve youth between the ages of 12-17. Youth, particularly women & First Nation populations, become vulnerable and exploiters target and prey on them.”
- MP Christine Moore, Abitibi—Témiscamingue
“Designating a National Human Trafficking Awareness Day will help to educate people, spark conversations and rally supporters against this serious, global crime, which disproportionately impacts women and girls.”
- Nicole Barrett, Director of the International Justice and Human Rights Clinic at the Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia
The APPG to End Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking was launched April 2018 and includes members from the Liberal, Conservative, NDP, and Green parties as well as the Independent Senators Group. Over the past year, the co-chairs have held a number of briefings on human trafficking for Parliamentarians.
The activities of the APPG to End Modern Slavery are supported by a partnership with the Allard School of Law’s International Justice and Human Rights Clinic at UBC.
M-212 — Mr. Viersen (Peace River—Westlock) — That, in the opinion of the House, the government should encourage Canadians to raise awareness of the magnitude of modern day slavery in Canada and abroad and to take steps to combat human trafficking, and should do so by designating the 22nd day of February each year as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, to coincide with the anniversary of the unanimous declaration of the House on February 22, 2007, to condemn all forms of human trafficking and slavery.
No. 439. – By the Honourable Senator Christmas — That the Senate call on the government to raise awareness of the magnitude of modern day slavery in Canada and abroad and to take steps to combat human trafficking, and that the Senate also urge the government to designate the 22nd day of February each year as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, to coincide with the anniversary of the unanimous declaration of the House of Commons on February 22, 2007, to condemn all forms of human trafficking and slavery.