Officers and leadership with the Treaty Three Police Service are continuing to crack down and raise awareness about human trafficking taking place in northwestern Ontario.

Police unveiled new community posters that feature anti-human trafficking messages in Anishinaabemowin at a traditional feast in the territory of the Anishinaabeg of Naongashiing, otherwise known as Big Island First Nation, on January 10.

The posters feature artwork from Treaty #3 artist Kelly BigGeorge, as well as a new word in the Anishinaabemowin language which translates to human trafficking. The initiative was created by a Treaty #3 Elders Group.

“As a group, we developed the vision for the art piece by listening to the Elders speak of past traumas relating to violence and human trafficking,” says Jody Smith, coordinator for the Spirit of Hope program.

“There were teachings shared specific to women and young girls,” adds Smith. “I am truly honoured that from this group, a word was created in the language which translates to human trafficking as there was not one prior to this,” she adds.

Ontario is a major centre for human trafficking in Canada – accounting for more than two-thirds of cases nationally. Overall, Indigenous women and girls are among the most at-risk groups of individuals, and many cases involve incidents on sex trafficking.

“We look forward to seeing these posters in the communities,” says Jocelyn Johnson of Giishkaandago’Ikwe Health Services. “Seeing the messages in the language will have a profound impact and our hope is that the messages and posters spread awareness and supports healing.”

Residents with any information regarding human trafficking in northwestern Ontario is asked to contact police immediately at 1-888-310-1122, anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or online at www.crimestoppers.ca.

The Kenora Sexual Assault Centre can provide free training on how to spot signs and help people who may be victims of human trafficking. KSAC can be reached at 807-468-7233, or contact their toll-free crisis line at 1-800-565-6161.

Victims of human trafficking can contact the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free at 1-833-900-1010 for support at any time. For immediate support, residents are asked to call 911.

February 22 is Human Trafficking Awareness Day in Ontario.