February 22 is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day in Canada, a day set aside to bring particular attention to the issues of human trafficking and modern slavery in Canada and around the world. Freedom Sunday, held on February 23 this year, is the closest Sunday to this national observance and offers churches a direct opportunity to pray, worship and take action in addressing the crime of human trafficking.
What is human trafficking?
Every day millions of people are victims of human trafficking globally. These individuals are exploited for their labour or are forced into non-consensual sex work, drug trafficking, gang activities and organ trafficking. People in trafficking conditions are held against their will, denied crucial identity and travel documents, and face physical and emotional abuse from their traffickers. In Canada, those most vulnerable to being trafficked are girls, Indigenous women, young members of LGBTQ2SI communities, youth in social care, refugees, and foreign temporary workers.
At General Synod 2019, the Anglican Church of Canada passed a resolution condemning human trafficking and slavery, and committing church members to work for the elimination of these crimes in Canada and around the world. As part of this commitment, individuals, parishes and dioceses across Canada are encouraged to participate in National Human Trafficking Awareness Day through prayer, education and action.
Freedom Sunday is a global day of prayer, worship and action in tackling the crime of human trafficking. Faith communities learn about human trafficking in their neighbourhoods and beyond, express compassion and solidarity with trafficked peoples through prayer, bible study and worship, and make commitments to act.
Unfortunately, many church members are unaware of the extent and nature of human trafficking and modern slavery in our neighbourhoods, towns and cities. What does labour trafficking looks like where we live? Who are most vulnerable to being trafficked? How do we unwittingly participate in trafficking and slavery through consumer choices – our favourite fast food outlets, car wash, nail salon? Do we suspect a local farmer is abusing migrant workers? Why do we never see the foreign domestic worker who is the family nanny out with friends?
Online Freedom Sunday resources (below) offer Canadian Anglicans various ways to learn more about human trafficking and modern slavery in Canada and globally, and to participate in Human Trafficking Awareness Day in Canada on February 22.
Other dates for Freedom Sunday include:
- Sundays closest to July 30, UN World Day Against Trafficking in Persons
- Sundays closest to December 10, UN Human Rights Day
How you can help
- Print out and post a Human Trafficking Hotline poster (PDF) in your church.
- Explore the anglican.ca website to learn about human trafficking and how you can work with partners on these issues locally and globally.
- Watch and/or share the Anglican Church of Canada’s human trafficking awareness video to learn more about the issues surrounding human trafficking.
- Participate in Freedom Sunday 2020 on February 23. Anglicans are encouraged to learn more about the National Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline. The Hotline is a critical tool to report concerns about potential trafficking situations, as they may be happening to others or to oneself. Find out how the Hotline works and how local communities become more aware and resilient through good reporting.
- Visit The Clewer Initiative website (The Church of England) for a wide range of prayer, study and worship resources to raise awareness within weekly and Sunday worship, and on dates designated for tackling human trafficking and modern slavery.