B.C. nurse in Saskatoon to help others identify victims of human trafficking

An emergency care nurse from British Columbia is in Saskatoon talking about the symptoms of human trafficking and how everyone can do a better job identifying the victims.

Web-based training helps front-line workers spot victims

Hope Restored Canada, an anti-human trafficking charity, is holding its annual conference in Saskatoon this week. (Shutterstock)

An emergency care nurse from British Columbia is in Saskatoon to talk about the symptoms of human trafficking and how everyone can do a better job identifying the victims.

Tara Wilkie said it's a little more complex than just making note of obvious signs like substance abuse issue, bruises and broken bones.

"What's important is that we're able to look at the reason they've presented to the health care setting and that we're able to figure out through screening for violence, asking about issues surrounding exploitation and their social life and be able to explore a little bit more into how this injury or illness came to be, rather than putting a Band-Aid on a wound," Wilkie said.

These situations are quite traumatic.- Tara Wilkie  

Wilkie created a web-based training program that can help front-line health care workers identify the victims of human trafficking. She's in Saskatoon this week for the annual conference of charity Hope Restored Canada.

Wilkie said her program asks people to work their way through the acronym C.A.R.E. to determine if someone is being forced into things like prostitution.

"Consider the red flags, assess, respond and evaluate your response."

Tara Wilkie is speaking about a training program she helped develop that teaches health care workers how to recongize that a patient is the victim of human trafficking. (CBC)

Circle of violence 

It's important for health care workers to be on watch, Wilkie said, because sometimes the victims of human trafficking sometimes do not recognize violence, especially if it has always been a part of their lives.

"A number of trafficked persons don't actually understand the situation that they're in and especially if they've come from cyclical violence. So if they've grown up with violence this is just on a continuum for them and it's really hard for them to interpret what life would be like outside of that situation," she said.

Wilkie said that often victims will take their time opening up to health care providers, testing their ability to respond to their real needs over a period of visits.

One of a kind

Launched back in 2015, the program Human Trafficking – Help Don't Hinder was the first and remains the only training program of its kind in Canada. Wilkie said that the front-line workers also have to learn self-care after finding themselves giving aid to victims.

"These situations are quite traumatic and highly intensive for health care providers to deal with, and we need to make sure at the end of the day that they come out of this okay," she said.

with files from Saskatoon Morning


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