An information session on human trafficking took place in Williams Lake Tuesday evening.
RCMP Cst. Sharon Peters says the public has a huge role when it comes to prevention.
“You’re coming into contact with people every day; you’re going to see people at their best and at their worst. You will meet people who are ready to talk to you, but would never want to talk to me,” she said.
“You need to educate yourself and it’s something that can be prevented but people are turning a blind eye. People aren’t accepting that it can happen in Williams Lake.”
Peters says trafficking can be sexual but also labor intensive as well-a Dawson Creek Tim Hortons was investigated in 2012 following complaints against the owner from employees from Mexico who alleged they were forced to live in overcrowded housing and subjected to racist and discriminatory treatment.
A hotel in Valemount meanwhile has also been subjected to RCMP investigations on human trafficking in which 8 foreign workers were forced into prostitution run solely by Alberta dollars.
Peters goes on to say that although the City’s crack issue, which is a growing concern, can be tied at times with trafficking it is often difficult for police to prove.
“Crack hits in town cost about 10 bucks. Right here in town (Williams Lake), you’re having girls who are trying to get their next hit, their next fix and in exchange for that, they’re performing sexual favors,” she said.
“That is a big issue.”
The definition of trafficking according to Peters is moving someone from one place to another and forcefully exploiting them for the purpose of making money off of them.
There have been only 34 criminal convictions in human trafficking across Canada since 2005.
The Williams Lake RCMP currently have some different programs in the works to combat and raise awareness of human trafficking, which includes Children of the Street who will be talking to children within School District 27 in November.
Human trafficking is the second most profitable illegal industry within the world tied with the weapons trades raking in about $150 billion dollars each year.