New website sheds light on human trafficking in Thunder Bay
City one of Ontario's top six hubs for human trafficking
A new website is aimed at educating Thunder Bay residents about the problem of human trafficking in the city, and how to recognize when someone may be being victimized.
The new website was launched Monday — which was Human Trafficking Awareness Day in Ontario — by the Coalition to End Human Trafficking.
"Most of our young people are facing a huge impact from social media," said Kris Carlson, co-chair of the coalition, and human trafficking youth in transition worker at Thunder Bay Counselling.
"We know that social media is one of the biggest factors in luring and recruitment of young people into this crime," she said. "It's important for us to let people know that people as young as 13 years of age are the prime target age for human trafficking, and that in the province of Ontario, 17 is the average age of somebody who is being sexually exploited for human trafficking."
The website includes a list of warning signs of human trafficking, as well as a list of organizations in Thunder Bay that can help victims and survivors.
Carlson said Thunder Bay is attractive to people involved in organized crime, and is one of the top six hubs for human trafficking in Ontario.
"You can't go east or west without coming through us," she said. "We have a seaport, we are close to an international border, within 45 minutes. We have a seaway and we're the last international airport that flies north into several remote first nation communities."
"So realistically, this is a prime target for people who would be involved in organized crime, or this type of crime."
Carlson encouraged people in Thunder Bay to visit the website to learn more about the issue, and what can be done to help.
"This is a calculated crime that people seek out vulnerable individuals for," she said.
"Oftentimes, they're made to feel that they are alone. And we really want to drive home to survivors that you are not alone. There is hope and we are here to help you."