Our Story

The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW) Canada was established in 1996 in Victoria, British Columbia.

Since 1996, GAATW Canada has addressed trafficking issues and networked with women’s, 2SLGBTQAI+, sex work, and labour organizations locally and globally.

GAATW Canada is a member organization of GAATW, an alliance of over 105 non-governmental organizations worldwide, which include women’s rights, human rights, migrant rights, and anti-trafficking organizations, as well as self-organized groups of migrant workers, domestic workers, sex workers, and survivors of human trafficking. GAATW’s International Secretariat is located in Bangkok, Thailand.
In 1997, GAATW Canada hosted the North American Regional Consultative Forum on Trafficking in Women, the first consultation of its kind held in Canada.
The forum was designed to:
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initiate dialogue on trafficking and migration,
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facilitate an exchange of information and strategies,
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formulate and ratify a plan of action,
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and to expand the international network of organization and individuals committee to promoting the human rights of trafficked and migrant women.

The forum brought together activists from service-based and advocacy organizations in Canada, the United States, Nepal, the Philippines, Thailand, the Netherlands, France, Puerto Rico, and the Czech Republic, as well as a number of scholars and policymakers.

Forum Report: Whores, Maids & Wives: Making Links

Over the years, GAATW Canada engaged in policy advocacy and conducted several research projects to inform Canada’s response to human trafficking.

In 2022, GAATW Canada incorporated as a federal non-profit organization.

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GAATW Canada provides a national voice and labour rights approach to anti-trafficking policy and practice through research, advocacy, and public education.

Our Mission

GAATW Canada provides a national voice and labour rights approach to anti-trafficking policy and practice through research, advocacy, and public education.

Our Vision

A world where everyone has access to their full human and labour rights.

Our Values

Rights, Justice, Accountability

Position Statement

The work of GAATW Canada is rooted in a number of guiding principles. This is our platform for a more just Canadian society in order to prevent, reduce, and address human trafficking and promote the rights of victims and at-risk groups.



‘Trafficking’ and the labour exploitation of individuals must be understood in the context of neoliberal capitalism, patriarchal social attitudes, gender inequity in labour markets, increasingly restrictive immigration policies, weakening of labour rights, systemic racism, and impacts of climate change-related conditions that drive migration.

Currently,  anti-trafficking rhetoric largely ignores these macro socio-economic realities and instead focuses on individuals (e.g., traffickers, victims). This focus often results in disempowering, short-sighted services for individuals who are at risk or trafficked in Canada.

We acknowledge the limitations and harms of Canada’s law and order trafficking framework and aim to shift protectionist and criminalization approaches to approaches that are respectful of individual’s agency and labour rights.

GAATW Canada commits to action and advocacy to make concrete political and social change in the anti-trafficking landscape across Canada.

We embed an intersectional non-discrimination lens in all our work, that is non-discrimination on any grounds, including – singly or in combination – race, ethnicity, descent, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age, migrant status, birth or other status, or occupation (including work in the informal sectors such as domestic work, sex work, among others).

We employ the highest degree of accountability in our work to encourage a more transparent and effective use of anti-trafficking funding, resources, and statistics among all anti-trafficking stakeholders in Canada.

This statement does not address specific issues of child or youth exploitation or trafficking. It is not our intention to exclude these serious issues; rather, GAATW Canada acknowledges that child and youth exploitation and adult exploitation are different issues and we specifically focus on adult labour exploitation and trafficking.

Staff

The people who work at GAATW Canada share the principles and values of the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, an international alliance of member organizations from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas.
Alison GAATW National Director

Alison Clancey

National Director

Alison Clancey has worked in anti-trafficking curriculum development, training, frontline service, public education, policy, and advocacy for over a decade. Alison’s interest in addressing human trafficking through a labour rights framework stems from her previous career and experience working critically with law enforcement and the anti-trafficked. 

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I joined GAATW Canada because if we are as a nation to address human trafficking effectively, a significant shift in the understanding and response to human trafficking is required.

 

It is my hope that my community development experience facilitating complex multistakeholder processes that tackle challenging social issues will advance GAATW’s mission.

Borislav G

Borislav Gerasimov

Consultant

Borislav is the Editor of Anti-Trafficking Review – the first open access, peer reviewed journal dedicated to the issue of human trafficking. For the past 20 years, he’s been working at women’s rights and anti-trafficking NGOs at the national, European, and international level.

He has also volunteered for LGBTQI+ and sex worker rights NGOs in Bulgaria and the Netherlands. Borislav holds a degree in English Philology from Sofia University, Bulgaria.

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I joined GAATW Canada because I see an urgent need for a change in the discourses, policies, and practices related to addressing human trafficking in Canada. I hope that my experience with communications and advocacy in Europe, Asia, and globally will help me contribute to achieving this change.

Board of Directors

Directors draw upon their decades of scholarship and professional knowledge in the areas of anti-trafficking, labour rights, gender-based violence, and non-profit management to govern the organization.
Dr. Annalee Lepp GAATW Board Chair, Treasurer

Dr. Annalee Lepp

Co-Chair, Treasurer

Dr. Annalee Lepp is a founding member of GAATW Canada and was the long-time Vice-President of GAATW International Board of Directors. Dr. Lepp is also Associate Professor (Gender Studies) and Dean of Humanities at the University of Victoria.

Since 1997, she has been involved in various collaborative research projects that examine Canadian state policies and practices as they relate to trafficking in persons and irregular cross-border movements as well as the impact of anti-trafficking policies on sex workers’ rights in Canada.

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I joined GAATW Canada’s Board to continue my decades-long work with the organization.

 

I hope that I can continue to shape the direction of GAATW Canada’s work that is in line with the principles that drive the work of GAATW’s International Secretariat and the global alliance.

Leigh Elliott GAATW Board Secretary

Leigh Elliott

Co-Chair, Secretary

Leigh Elliott is the Executive Director of Peers Victoria Resources Society, a multi-service grassroots agency established by, with, and for sex workers in Victoria BC. Leigh has a Master of Arts in political theory with a focus on biopolitics, agency, and the harmful conflation of human trafficking and sex work.

Leigh has also conducted community-based research on sex work, housing, gender-based violence and violence prevention.

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I joined GAATW Canada’s Board because I believe there needs to be a national voice that speaks from an evidence-based framework on the topic of human trafficking.

 

I hope the impact of GAATW Canada will be to help propel a movement to change the conversation around human trafficking, to end the conflation between sex work and human trafficking, and to advocate for labour rights in all sectors.

Jenny Wright GAATW Board Member

Jenny Wright

Member at large

Jenny Wright is a registered clinical social worker who has worked across Canada, and in New Zealand, over the last 20+ years, working with Indigenous, poor, homeless, queer and trans, and sex working communities. She is a specialist in gender-based violence, resistance-informed policy, and a long-time advocate for women’s leadership and political participation.

Jenny has held numerous executive level and academic positions. Currently, she is living between St. John’s, Newfoundland and Halifax, Nova Scotia and working primarily through her private practice, the Landing Services, a counselling and training agency she co-founded in 2021.

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I joined GAATW because we need a national voice in Canada to counter the harms of the human trafficking narrative, with evidence-based research, advocacy and dialogue. I believe this will be the impetus for new policy and practices rooted in labour rights for women in sex work, migrant labour, and other industries.

 

It is my hope that my passion for innovative governance and decades of work fighting gender-based violence will advance GAATW Canada’s mission.

GAATW board member Kamala Kempadoo

dr. kamala kempadoo

Member at large

Kamala Kempadoo is a sociologist and Professor Emerita at York University in Toronto, Canada. Her expertise includes critical antitrafficking and sex work studies, Caribbean, Black and transnational feminisms, and Black Radical Thought.

Since the mid-1990s she has published widely on the Caribbean sex trade and global anti-trafficking discourses and most recently is co-editor with Elena Shih of White Supremacy, Racism and the Coloniality of Anti-Trafficking.

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I joined GAATW Canada’s board because I have long been critically engaged with the subject of anti-trafficking and believe that together with organizations such as GAATW, we can bring about a change in ideas, policies and practices that harm working women internationally.

GAATW board member Julie Ham

Dr. Julie Ham

Member at large

Julie’s recent research explores knowledge production and cultural production by migrants in Hong Kong through participatory and visual methodologies.

Her research is grounded in academic-community collaborations that speak to priorities identified by migrant and minority communities, such as the dehumanization of domestic workers, harms produced by the anti-trafficking industry, the impact of social difference in sex work, the trajectory of migrant remittances, cultural production and dynamics that support or hinder social change for migrant communities.

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I joined GAATW Canada’s Board to support the rights and well-being of sex workers, migrant workers, migrants and other communities that have been borne the brunt of repressive anti-trafficking measures.

GAATW board member Julie Kaye

Dr. Julie Kaye

Member at large

Dr. Julie Kaye works as an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Saskatchewan and Co-Founder of Standing Together where she works together with relations and grassroots organizers of MMIWGT2S+ and decolonial, anti-violence organizing and research alongside Indigenous-led responses to colonial gendered violence.

Dr. Kaye’s work also examines settler-colonialism and colonial gendered violence and racialized policing as well as harm reduction, consent, and body sovereignty.

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I joined GAATW Canada’s Board because I was honoured early in my education to benefit from learning from the critical anti-trafficking work of GAATW. This foundational education has been essential to my relations with community and I look forward to supporting future generations of community leaders through GAATW Canada.