Exposed: Human trafficking ‘evolving’ in Treaty 3

In Fort Frances, Ont., women and children are being sexually exploited too often by the very people and institutions that are supposed to protect them.

The impact of this is being felt in communities and on the streets of the border town where people say human trafficking is growing.

“For a long time what we saw is a lot of just survival sex. Sex for drugs, sex for money, sex for acceptance. But we’re starting to hear about individuals in the area, that whole trafficking aspect. It’s like it’s evolving,” said Traci Lockman, co-founder of The Family Centre, a Fort Frances drop-in centre.

“And a lot of these girls are vulnerable, they’re dependent on drugs and they’ll do whatever it takes to get them.”

human trafficking Treaty 3
Traci Lockman is the co-founder of the Family Centre, a soup kitchen in Fort Frances, Ont. For months she’s been chasing drug dealers and predators away from their vulnerable clients. Photo: Kenneth Jackson/APTN

Peggy Loyie, who runs the Rainy River District Victim Services Program, sees the victims up close.

“They’re coming through our front door. Yeah, they’re coming through our front door,” said Loyie.

“We know first-hand where people are being exploited. We’ve heard stories of people being exploited because they needed to get from Point A to Point B and what it cost them to do that.”

Like many towns, Fort Frances has seen a spike in addiction and homelessness.

“We are in a crisis. We are in a crisis when it comes to addiction and the types of addiction we are facing, like with opiates, fentanyl, meth – we are in a crisis. We are in a crisis right now with homelessness, but again it’s all so complex, it’s not just one thing, everything is so interconnected,” said Loyie.

And, according to Lockman, predators feed off this trauma.

“Just this morning, we had a man coming here. I don’t know whether he was looking for sex or drugs. He’s here often; we’ve kicked him off the property; we’ve called the police. The women depend on that, a lot of them,” she said.

In the latest episode of APTN Investigates we also speak to the victims, as well as identify convicted sex offenders and alleged abusers.

Read More: 

The dark history of Weechi-it-te-win Family Services 



Cullen Crozier is a video journalist and documentary producer with APTN Investigates. He is Gwich’in, Dene and Métis based out of his home community of Somba K’e, Denendeh (Yellowknife, N.W.T.). Cullen’s work focuses on injustices facing Indigenous people in Canada. He has reported on the forced sterilization of Indigenous women in Saskatchewan, the forgotten residential school survivors of Newfoundland and Labrador and the ongoing child welfare crisis in Ontario.

His documentaries have been recognized by the Michener Foundation, the Canadian Association of Journalists, Amnesty International, the Sidney Hillman Foundation, the Native American Journalists Association and the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television.

Investigative Reporter

Kenneth Jackson is based in Ottawa, Ont. and has worked more than two decades in the business. He got his start in community newspapers before joining the Ottawa Sun in 2007 where he worked the police beat.

In 2011, Jackson joined APTN to break the Bruce Carson scandal with Jorge Barrera that sparked three federal investigations into the former senior advisor to then Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Carson was later convicted of fraud sparking a court battle to the Supreme Court of Canada. The conviction was upheld and based entirely on APTN’s investigation.

Jackson has focused, almost exclusively, on the child welfare system in Ontario over the last five years. The work has earned multiple awards, including the 2020 Michener Award.

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