A Call For Action To End Labour Trafficking: How Collaboration Can Lead to Solutions

As a part of the annual Victims and Survivors of Crime Week, the Toronto Counter Human Trafficking Network hosted on May 17th a hybrid forum to raise awareness and address the root causes of the ever growing labour trafficking issue in Canada.

The forum identified the issue at hand, by discussing the realities of labour trafficking in Canada while examining the systems in place that facilitate the trafficking of foreign nationals for the purpose of forced labour. Speakers also addressed the gaps in service in supporting victims and survivors in order to foster solutions to strengthen collaboration across sectors.

The forum featured a panel discussion with experts from victim supporting organizations, advocates and researchers, and those with lived experience of labour trafficking in Canada. Topics covered incl,uded raising awareness about current human trafficking trends involving large groups of foreign nationals being recruited to work in Canada, addressing the use of housing exploitation as a means of control, identifying the root causes of emerging trends through policy examination, and developing recommendations to foster collaboration towards solutions.

We believe that through collaboration between service providers, government, law enforcement, and those directly impacted by labour trafficking, we can better respond to labour trafficking and ideally prevent it.


Selene Mateos Solis (Survivor of Labour Trafficking): Selene Mateos Solis (she/they) is a survivor of human labour trafficking in Ontario. They hold a bachelor in environmental Technology from UT Tabasco in Mexico. They have spoken at events held by FCJ Refugee Centre, the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture and the Toronto United Mennonite Church. Their experience has sparked a drive to get to the community. They currently volunteer for the newcomers program “Among Friends” at the 519 in Toronto. Selene believes that education, awareness and advocacy regarding this topic is crucial. They are particularly focused on raising awareness of the personal impact the experience of being trafficked for labour can have on an individual.

Connie Stevens: Connie Stevens is a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner who has worked in Sexual Health for over 35 years. Connie received her PhD from the University of Liverpool and teaches at a GTA college. Based on her experience in both areas, Connie researched safer acclimatisation for Female Punjabi International students. Researching the students’ experience has exposed sex trafficking and labour trafficking. The students fear community and immigration retaliation if they share their stories. Connie wants to acknowledge the students’ contributions and permission received to act as an ally and advocate on their behalf. Connie will share her research findings and offer some of the students’ suggested resolutions.

Nadia Nadeem (Staff Immigration Lawyer – Neighbourhood Legal Services): Nadia is a Staff Lawyer (Immigration) at Neighbourhood Legal Services. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour from McMaster University. Prior to attending law school, Nadia worked in a Mental Health & Addiction Program at a major city hospital where she supported individuals as well as their families. Nadia is deeply committed to social justice and advocacy, particularly on behalf of vulnerable and marginalized groups. While in law school, Nadia gained clinical experience through working at community legal clinics in both Hamilton and Windsor. She is passionate about community lawyering in the immigration & refugee law context, and is currently Co-Chair of the Inter Clinic Immigration Working Group (ICIWG)

Ezat Mossallanejad (Policy Analyst at Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture): Ezat holds a Ph.D. degree from Poona University, India, and has worked as Coordinator of the Jesuit Refugee Service-Canada. Ezat has served as a founding member of the Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ), the Culturelink’s Chair of the Board and a director on the Board of the Inter-Church Committee for Refugee (ICCR). At present, Ezat works as a full-time Settlement Counsellor and Policy Analyst with the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture (CCVT). Ezat has also worked on the Editorial Board of the Refugee Update. Ezat has published 6 books and more than 150 articles in Farsi as well as three books and around 45 articles in English. He has worked with several UN bodies in connection with refugee protection and eradication of torture. In his mission to protect refugees and survivors of torture, he has travelled to different countries including USA, Mexico, Rwanda, Switzerland, Austria, Australia, Nigeria, Uganda, Thailand, India and Cyprus. His book Torture in the Age of Fear was published in September 2005. In 2012, he published Religions and the Cruel Return of Gods. In 2014, he published a book entitled Crimes and Punishment in Islam. His book The Silence of Fairy was published in 2018. He is also the founder of Zagros Editions.

James McLean (Director of Research and Policy – Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking): James McLean currently serves as the Director of Research and Policy at the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking. In this role, he is initiating a series of original research projects, including one that is looking at how prosecutors and law enforcement can make better use of digital evidence to reduce reliance on victim testimony. Prior to joining the Centre, James worked with a non-profit organization in Ottawa, the City of Toronto, and as a Senior Advisor to Ontario’s Minister of Education. He also serves as Deputy Mayor of his local municipality.

Kelly Howe (Senior Manager – Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills): Kelly is the Senior Manager of the Divisional Intelligence Unit (DIU). The DIU is a dedicated team in the ministry that was created to support efforts against provincial labour trafficking. This team focuses on detecting and investigating exploitative labour practices and labour trafficking activity. The DIU works closely with legal clinics, advocacy groups, industry associations, consulates, agencies that support workers and newcomers, police, other law enforcement agencies and the broader regulatory community on matters related to labour exploitation and trafficking.

Jovana Blagovcanin (Anti-Human Trafficking Manager- FCJ Refugee Centre): Jovana is the Anti-Human Trafficking Manager at FCJ Refugee Centre and the Coordinator of the Toronto Counter Human Trafficking Network. Through the Anti-Human Trafficking and Migrant Mobile Worker Program, Jovana supports precarious status migrants who have experienced abuse in the workplace, or exploitation in the form of labour or sex trafficking. Jovana continues to participate in advocacy efforts through the Toronto Counter Human Trafficking Network, Canadian Council for Refugees and other various committees involved in migrant worker rights campaigns.