The OPP has partnered with Muskoka Victim Services to launch an Anti-Human Trafficking Awareness.

“The goal of the campaign is to shine a light on human trafficking and how prevalent it is in our communities,” says Sergeant Iryna Nebogatova. 

“Human trafficking involves the recruitment, transportation or harbouring of persons for the purposes of exploitation, typically in the sex industry or for forced labour,” she explains. “Victims are often from extremely vulnerable populations, including migrant workers, new immigrants, Indigenous women and youth, at-risk youth and those who are socially or economically disadvantaged.”

Nebogatova says that traffickers often use major highways – like Highway 11 in Muskoka – which is why two billboards have been put up along that stretch of road. The billboards can be seen going northbound on Highway 11 in Gravenhurst and southbound at Highway 11 south in Severn Bridge. The two billboards will feature comments made by human trafficking victims. 

Nebogatova says the indicators someone may be involved in human trafficking includes refusing to give information or lying about what’s happening, not able to say where they live or identify where they last were or are going, not travelling with a lot of luggage, wearing clothing inappropriate for the weather, allowing someone to take over their conversation, not having money or ID on them, and showing signs of abuse, malnourishment or sleep deprivation.

She says that you should call 911 right away if you feel like someone you know may be a victim of trafficking. For victims, Nebogatova suggests reaching out to Muskoka Victim Services at 1-844-762-9945.