1 Dec, 2020

In our first blog about the ways in which Canada has benefited and still benefits from the trafficking and exploitation of human beings I wanted to start with the framework that is used to discuss what is the legal definition of human trafficking. See the info graph of Act Means Purpose model. This model was developed by POLARIS in the United States and is used to conceptualize what elements need to be present for the crime of human trafficking instead of exploitation. 

As we go through the next few days discussing 6 ways that the government has participated in trafficking, some situations have not been deemed “illegal” but there were many things in our history that were at one time legal and aren’t any more slavery is one example. An important question to ask ourselves is who benefits from the suffering of others?  
These 6 posts will not be in any particular order but are important to learn about and understand what systemic issues still exist and how do these situations continue to be reenacted today.

The 1st post is about slavery in Canada. I will preface this by acknowledging my privilege as a white cis-gendered female living in Canada. Although I am a survivor of sex trafficking and other forms of gender-based violence I have and continue to benefit from the very situations that we will discuss over the next few days. It is my role and responsibility to continue to peel back my layers of biases and am forever working to understand my own place in the oppression of fellow humans.

Some of this information may not be new to anyone reading this. Because of my trauma, I did not have the ability to complete school in the common way of going right from kindergarten to university. (that’s a story for another day) so there are many things that I did not learn as it relates to history. I am also aware that what is taught in our school systems is whitewashed and often not true anyway so I’m not sure I would have learned much anyway.

In preparing to write this post I tried to do some research into slavery in Canada and mostly came up with items written by various levels of government. So, I am skeptical that I am getting all of the true information. What I have learned while working in feminist work and working towards my BA in women in gender studies is that often times a gender lens has not been applied to  historical information  and there are few feminist historians.

New-to-me information for me that I found today was that about 2/3rd of slaves in Canada were indigenous peoples. In hindsight I am not surprised and on a even further level now understand another layer as to why indigenous women and girls are overrepresented as survivors of trafficking. 

I was lucky enough to be able to attend an annual meeting in Halifax Nova Scotia a couple of years ago. It was there that I first learned about Africville. I’ve included the link to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights here and invite anyone reading who may have access to additional resources to please share.

There is a book that is next on my read list. Some of you may have read it already but just incase here is a link to it written by Robyn Maynard-Policing Black Lives State Violence in Canada From Slavery To Present. This Book looks like it will talk about  on some of the issues related to trafficking that will be posted over the next few days. Additionally from what I saw Robyn Maynard writes about how the government continues to create conditions that oppress and cause violence to  black communities in Canada.

In my years working in Anti-trafficking work, I have consistently heard the government and anti-trafficking advocates claim that sex trafficking is the fastest growing crime in Canada. I literally have a physical reaction to that statement every.damn.time.

Human trafficking is a tool that has been used for hundreds of years. It is not growing ,we are talking about different types now.  Please don’t mistake my call for systemic change as a removal of responsibility off of the individuals who traffic others because that is not at all the place I am coming from. However, If we do not take a step back and examine the conditions that make trafficking happen, we will never, ever stop trafficking from happening. If people are living in poverty, experiencing individual and systemic oppression and violence and capitalism is a priority, trafficking will be necessary for survival.

As always, please like and comment below… I’m not actually sure if anyone is reading these or not lol!