Hundreds join first Ottawa’s anti-human trafficking Freedom Walk

By Deborah Gyapong

Canadian Catholic News

OTTAWA (CCN) — Several hundred marchers participated in Ottawa’s first fundraising Freedom Walk Sept. 27 to raise awareness of the fight against human trafficking.

This event took place at the same time as the fifth annual Freedom Walk in Toronto and aimed to promote solidarity among the various groups and agencies engaged in anti-human trafficking efforts. Representatives from various groups, trafficking survivors, and the Ottawa police took part.

Representing the federal government, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney participated in the four-kilometre walk that began with speeches at the Ottawa Convention Centre and ended with a rally on Parliament Hill.

“Our government is on the frontlines of the global fight against human trafficking,” Blaney said. “We are here today to continue to build partnerships that will help to address these heinous crimes. Together, we will continue helping the victims of this despicable crime and make sure we hold those responsible accountable for their crimes.”

Blaney outlined to the marchers the steps Canada has taken to implement the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking the government launched in June 2012, noting Canada has acted to combat human trafficking in all its forms.

The national action plan includes initiatives to prevent trafficking, identify victims, protect the vulnerable and prosecute traffickers, he said. It also supports the efforts of various groups that work in the area to help victims.

Other features of the plan are the launch of an RCMP Enforcement Team to Combat Human Trafficking that co-ordinates with other law enforcement bodies; the creation of a National Threat Assessment on human trafficking within Canada; annual consultations with the various groups and agencies involved in fighting trafficking; the development of an awareness campaign in partnership with the National Association of Friendship Centres to help Aboriginal communities targeted by human traffickers involved in sexual exploitation; an RCMP youth awareness campaign; an outreach campaign for temporary foreign workers and foreign nationals vulnerable to exploitation by traffickers; and amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to help ensure employers provide abuse-free workplaces.

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