Meet HART (Human Anti-Trafficking Response Team) Back L-R: Tamara Bahry, Board Member; Debbie McGrath, Board Member Front L-R: Kelly Grier-Nadal, Founder; Carol Wildgoose, Board Member

Supporting Survivors

Sex trafficking is a global, billion-dollar industry that destroys lives every day – especially those of vulnerable girls and young women. 

“The average age that survivors are first lured or forced into trafficking is between 11 and 13 years of age,” says advocate Kelly Grier-Nadal. “I don’t know how society can accept this.”  

In 2017, Kelly founded a not-for-profit organization called HART (Human Anti-Trafficking Response Team), which focuses on raising awareness of sex trafficking in Canada and supporting victims who survive it.  

“There’s been a lack of education and awareness for too long, and until now, limited coordinated efforts to address both,” says Kelly. “I’m proud that our $1 million gift to Women’s in 2020 provided the crucial seed funding to begin pioneering research, which aims to improve the health and care of survivors. This was driven by a lack of research-based protocols to define best practices for education, and service provision in critical areas, including social-support agencies and healthcare.” 

The gift from HART is supporting a research study overseen by Drs. Janice Du Mont and Robin Mason at Women’s College Research Institute. 

“Our research will help us learn how prepared the health, social-service, police and education sectors are to recognize and appropriately respond to survivors,” explains Dr. Du Mont. “Where gaps exist, our plan is to develop resources to address them.

Results of the ongoing study will inform the development of standardized curricula on sex trafficking for healthcare providers.  

“By focusing on the issues here [in Canada] and learning from survivors themselves, we hope to bring greater understanding to their needs and contribute to systems change,” says Dr. Mason. 

In March 2023, HART sponsored the Women’s College Hospital Foundation (WCHF) webinar “In Conversation With… Rhonelle Bruder on Centring Survivors’ Voices to Combat Sex Trafficking,” in which researcher Rhonelle Bruder explored the importance of evidence-based research and education to helping survivors reclaim their lives after such a traumatic experience. 

HART’s sponsorship of the webinar is just the latest example of their continuing commitment to sex-trafficking research and awareness. Within the past year, HART’s leadership in this space has inspired other organizations and partners, such as the Moez & Marissa Kassam Foundation, Peerage Realty Partners and Sotheby’s, to lend their own support to the important work being done by Drs. DuMont and Mason.  

As the body of research into sex trafficking continues to grow in 2023 and beyond, healthcare providers will be better equipped with the data, knowledge and insights needed for true innovations in care. 

“As Rhonelle spoke about in the webinar, it’s invaluable that survivors are sharing their knowledge to guide the work being done to address this issue moving forward,” says Kelly. “Through our partnership with Women’s, HART feels grateful to be in a position where we can build a platform – and hopefully a movement in healthcare – to respond in the best way we can to support survivors.” 

To support the work Women’s College Hospital is doing to help Canadian survivors of sex trafficking, please consider donating to HART.

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