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Boreal Community Media

Shedding light on darkness: Northland leaders raise awareness on human trafficking

Jan 05, 2022 06:40AM ● By Editor

Photos: KBJR-TV

By Larissa Milles of KBJR-TV - January 4, 2021

Human trafficking is a problem found in far too many communities, from Duluth, to local tribal nations, and across Minnesota and Wisconsin.

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, human trafficking is when someone uses force, fraud or coercion to control another person for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or soliciting labor or services against their will.

To kick off National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, Northland leaders held a virtual opening ceremony Monday.

Mayor Emily Larson said some people are impacted by human trafficking more than others. “The state recognizes sexual exploitation and sex trafficking as a complex problem that also disproportionately affects Indigenous populations at ten times the rate of other populations in Northeastern Minnesota,” Larson said.


Marcia Kitto, with the Fond Du Lac Tribe, said a local program called Solidarity Shawls honors Indigenous survivors of sexual exploitation.

“Our men and women have carried this pain in silence too long,” Kitto said. “Dancing is a time for healing, for celebration of life, and friends and family.”

The Duluth Trafficking Awareness Coalition will host events throughout January, including panels with survivor experts, training for healthcare providers, and collaborative events with Native Lives Matter.

“Duluth is a strong community with partners who work alongside each other daily to provide critical care for our most vulnerable community members,” said Anne LaFrinier Ritchie, a Safe Harbor Regional Navigator.


Leaders said they hope to shed light on this dark issue and head towards a world where it doesn’t exist.

“Until all people are home and safe and valued whether they live in this community or some other community in the state of Minnesota, in this country, or in this world, our work to end human trafficking will continue,” Larson said.

The Duluth Human Trafficking Awareness Coalition will live stream these events. Signs someone is being trafficked include they live with their employer, they’re not allowed to speak with someone alone, their answers sound scripted, their employer is holding their personal documents, or they appear fearful.

To reach the National Trafficking Hotline, you can call 1-888-373-7888.

More information about Duluth’s events can be found here.

To watch the video version of this story and see related reporting, follow this link to the KBJR-TV website.