"This centre is a game-changer to help people find prevention and intervention programs that combat human trafficking in Canada," says founder Joy Smith.
The online launch for the National Human Trafficking Education Centre, created by the Joy Smith Foundation, went live Canada-wide on Thursday evening.
After being a teacher for many years and hoping to one day be a principal of a school, Smith heard about the heinous crimes happening to children in Canada through exploitation, from her son, a police officer. This changed the course of Smith's life and she has been combatting human trafficking in Canada ever since.
"I cannot stress enough how vital this resource will be to policy and lawmakers, as well as parents and teens. Human trafficking is 100 per cent preventable. Education is power," says Diane Redsky during the launch. She is a strong advocate for Indigenous women and children.
Multiple well-known Canadian's spoke during the online event, including musicians Steve Bell, Paul Brandt, and Robb Nash.
"Joy's efforts are helping make a difference. We believe freedom should be for everybody," says Brandt, the founder of the Not in My City movement.
The ground-level effort of helping stop exploitation in Canada has been a family affair for the Smiths. It may have started with Smith's son, but now her daughters work alongside her, as well as a granddaughter. During the event, two daughters and Smith's granddaughter spoke of the impact she had in their lives.
The NHTEC offers courses for medical, judicial, and law enforcement, as well as for parents and teenagers to educate them on the way traffickers lure young people. They also offer support for anyone looking to become free from exploitation. Depending on the course, it is offered for free or for a fee.
During the event, Smith says she was motivated to continue on when things got hard because of the survivors and their powerful testimonies. It took her 11 years as a Member of Parliament to pass two bills. Their stories helped change Canadian laws in the fight against human trafficking. While the foundation continues to help many survivors, their hope is to ultimately prevent it from happening in the first place.