Nova Scotia

Maritime trucking company partners with U.S. non-profit to combat human trafficking

Day & Ross, which is based out of New Brunswick, has trained all 8,000 of its employees on how to spot and report human trafficking.

Day & Ross working with Truckers Against Trafficking to identify, report cases of human trafficking

Day & Ross has trained its drivers on how to spot and report human trafficking if they see it along Canadian highways. (David Donnelly/CBC)

A Maritime trucking company has made it its mission to combat human trafficking along routes that are often used as trafficking corridors, including between Halifax and Moncton, N.B.

Day & Ross, which is based out of New Brunswick, has trained all 8,000 of its employees on how to spot and report human trafficking, thanks to its partnership with Truckers Against Trafficking, a U.S.-based non-profit.

"Drivers — they're kind of like eyes and ears on the road, and we have drivers that are literally making thousands of trips every week on our roads," Doug Tingley, the chief operating officer at Day & Ross, told CBC Radio's Mainstreet in a recent interview. 

"So we've thought that training them or giving them exposure to the training probably would allow them to identify a situation where somebody was being trafficked."

Truckers Against Trafficking has been training drivers within the trucking industry in the United States since 2009, and in Canada since 2019.

The training is available online and provides truckers information about how to identify human trafficking. It also features real-life experiences from survivors.

"We train truck drivers on the signs to look for, some of the red-flag indicators that might indicate someone is indeed a human trafficking victim, and then equip them with exactly how to respond," Esther Goetsch, the interim executive director of Truckers Against Trafficking, said in an interview Wednesday from Oklahoma.

"So we're not asking truck drivers to, you know, attempt to rescue anyone. We're simply asking them to report what they are seeing to law enforcement or to the national hotline."

Trafficking often occurs between Canadian cities because traffickers can isolate their victims. (Robert Short/CBC)

Goetsch said truckers are an important resource in identifying human trafficking because they frequent distances where law enforcement may not be present.

Some of these areas include trafficking corridors between Canadian cities.

The stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway between Halifax and Moncton was the most frequently mentioned corridor in Atlantic Canada, according to a report released last year by the Canadian Centre To End Human Trafficking.

Researchers found that traffickers go to Moncton to access the commercial sex markets in strip clubs, for example, or to recruit young women and lure them back to Halifax. Victims can also be taken to larger centres such as Montreal and Toronto.

"Certainly the corridor from Halifax to the Quebec border is the one that's heavily travelled by human traffickers," Tingley said.

"It's all around us and I think our people have been quite responsive to the message and they want to do their piece to help."

Tingley said when Day & Ross started offering the training, their drivers jumped on the opportunity because it "resonated with their values."

"They're very proud of the fact that we're involved. Many of them said there was some understanding on their part that this happens, but it's one of those problems that you tend to maybe minimize because we don't see it much in our day to day," Tingley said.

'Well worth it'

Goetsch said the non-profit hasn't had any reported cases of trafficking from Day & Ross yet, but the partnership is still young. 

"Our hope would certainly be that in the future we will be able to celebrate those everyday heroes as a result," she said.

Tingley said that is the goal now that the drivers have been trained.

"If we put the training in their hands along with the tools to do something about it, then our belief was that our people would respond to this and that we could eliminate [human trafficking cases]. Even if we eliminate one or two in the run of a year, then it's well worth it."

With files from Alex Guye, CBC Radio's Mainstreet