A national awareness campaign drawing awareness to the issues surrounding human trafficking is receiving a significant financial boost from the Manitoba government.

The province announced on Wednesday that it will provide $100,000 to the Joy Smith Foundation to help expand its public education efforts. 

“Sex trafficking is a growing concern in communities across Manitoba, particularly putting young girls and women at risk and the key to stopping continued exploitation is through education, increasing awareness and encouraging people who see the signs of trafficking to speak up,” said Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen. “This funding will help the Joy Smith Foundation expand its public education efforts and help more people recognize and avoid falling victim to this crime while also helping survivors recover and move forward in their lives.”

The 'See the Trafficking Signs' campaign was launched at the end of February to coincide with National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

“It is crucial our youth become aware of how traffickers operate, so they are empowered to protect themselves from becoming victimized,”  said Joy Smith, founder of the Joy Smith Foundation.

It focuses on the nine key signs of sex trafficking, including new clothing, jewelry or gifts without having money, frequent sleepovers at a friend's house, the sudden interest in a man several years older, sudden change in style of dress or makeup, a new circle of friends and isolation from the old group, change in attitude toward school and regular activities, dropping grades, unexplained injuries and using two cellphones. 

“This valuable information will protect our families from being trafficked. Education is our greatest weapon to suppress this crime,” said Janet Campbell, president and CEO of the Joy Smith Foundation.

Since its inception, the Joy Smith foundation has helped over 6,000 human trafficking survivors and their families restore their lives by reuniting, healing, and helping them reintegrate into their communities.