Don Kottick and Jennifer Bernard standing side by side, looking at the camera and smiling


Don Kottick and Jennifer Bernard

Taking action against sex trafficking

Survivors of sex trafficking and the providers who support them will soon have access to the evidence needed for a more just, equitable healthcare system that’s equipped to meet their needs, thanks to the power of philanthropy.

Sex trafficking involves recruiting, harbouring, holding, or transporting victims – the vast majority of whom are women and girls – to exploit them for sexual purposes. Sadly, and shockingly, it’s a billion-dollar industry.

Although people who have survived sex trafficking are often coping with the profound physical and mental health impacts of abuse, a historic lack of research into sex trafficking has left major gaps in knowledge – making it extremely difficult for providers to know how to identify, support and counsel those in need of help.

That is, until now.

In November 2020, the non-profit organization Human Anti-Trafficking Response Team (HART), founded by Kelly Grier, made a groundbreaking $1 million gift to Women’s College Hospital to support pioneering research into how best to support sex trafficking survivors.

L-R: Drs. Robin Mason, PhD and Janice Du Mont, EdD, scientists, Women’s College Research Institute

Led by Women’s College Research Institute scientists Drs. Janice Du Mont and Robin Mason – both experts in gender-based violence – the research initiative has the goal of informing integrated community and health care responses and policies to aid in the prevention of sex trafficking.

Over the past year, the initiative has gained the support of two leading companies committed to ending sex trafficking and supporting the needs of survivors.

In October 2021, Echelon Wealth Partners – a national independent wealth management and capital markets firm – raised $127,000 for the scientists’ research at its first-ever Echelon Impact Day, which rallied advisors from across the country to donate proceeds from trades made throughout the day.

And in February 2022, Sotheby’s International Realty Canada hosted its inaugural Day of Action on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, raising $120,000 in support of the HART-funded initiative.

“Sex trafficking has been a growing concern in Canada for years, but the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the crisis,” says Don Kottick, President and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada.

“Sotheby’s International Realty Canada is proud to play a role in raising awareness of this urgent issue and helping to transform the future of healthcare for survivors.”

– Don Kottick

If you would like to take action in support of Women’s College Hospital’s work to support survivors of sex trafficking, please consider making a donation or joining our community of monthly donors by visiting

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