DC Advertising students support DRPS human trafficking awareness campaign

As part of its effort to provide the best student experience, Durham College (DC) fosters strong connections with a variety of local partners, offering students the opportunity to put theory into practice while completing their programs. In the School of Media, Art & Design (MAD), students learn to establish and maintain client relationships by collaborating with community partners, quite often on real-life challenges and opportunities.

One such partnership led to a creative solution that helped address a serious issue – human trafficking. Through a collaboration with the Durham Regional Police Services (DRPS) Human Trafficking Unit (HTU), Advertising and Marketing Communications students worked to raise awareness in the community with the design and creation of an informative hotel card.

“The Advertising and Marketing Communications Program prides itself in providing promotional support to local business, not-for-profit and public service sectors. For this reason, a key component of the curriculum has students working alongside community partners to develop and implement effective communication strategies and programs,” says Dawn Salter, professor and program coordinator, School of Media, Art & Design.

Human trafficking involves the use of force, coercion or fraud to influence the movements of a person, typically through sexual exploitation or forced labour. Unfortunately, a number of human trafficking cases occur in our very own community, with aggressors often operating in local hotels throughout Durham Region.

Victims of human trafficking often have no possessions and are left to spend time alone in hotel rooms. As part of a DRPS initiative, DC students Lauren Crummey and Raphael Maturine leveraged input from over 50 of their peers to develop an ingenious solution that provides vital information to victims but can go undetected by traffickers. Disguised to look like a spa brochure, the students created a hotel card for victims that contains important information for various support services, in a subtle, yet impactful way.

“It was amazing to see how addressing a real-life, close-to-home matter sparked such interest and enthusiasm among the students,” says Dawn. “The opportunity to be part of an important initiative and make a valuable contribution to their community made such an impact. Involvement meant so much more than just getting a good grade.” 

MAD has been fortunate to work with the DRPS human trafficking unit since 2019, and has hosted HTU members and survivors as guest speakers on a number of occasions to raise awareness.

Students Lauren and Raphael shared their experience working on this important initiative in a special interview on our blog.