Thunder Bay, ON – In support of the United Nations World Day Against Trafficking in Persons (July 30), the Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) is calling on all levels of government as well as law enforcement and service agencies to increase their efforts to strengthen prevention and support Indigenous survivors of human trafficking/sexual exploitation.
ONWA knows that every Indigenous woman, girl, and two-spirit person has inherent gifts and is deserving of respect, dignity, and safety. ONWA is committed to walking with Indigenous women with living/lived experience as they navigate their healing journeys.
Ontario remains a hub for human trafficking in Canada, and Indigenous women and girls are disproportionately impacted and targeted. It is happening in cities, communities, and neighbourhoods across the province. The impacts of colonialization, racism, and sexism – such as income insecurity, housing instability, lack of social and cultural supports, and lack of equitable access to health care – have created the conditions that make Indigenous women and girls be especially targeted by traffickers.
Systemic racism and discrimination often leave Indigenous women survivors feeling unsafe seeking services and support from non-Indigenous institutions. ONWA continues to call on Ontario and Canada to increase sustainable investments in Indigenous women’s organizations so they can provide safe spaces for survivors as well as culture-based wrap-around supports that are central to healing.
ONWA acknowledges the bravery, wisdom, and leadership of all survivors as they are the experts, and their advice informs all aspects of our anti-human trafficking/sexual exploitation work to keep Indigenous women, girls, two-spirit people and their families safe.
ONWA is a leader in culturally grounded supports, and our Courage for Change Program is the largest Indigenous-led program for Indigenous survivors of human trafficking/sexual exploitation in Canada. We continue to hear from survivors that culturally grounded supports, such as ours, are critically important to their successes in being able to exit exploitative situations, rebuild their lives, and heal and be well.
The first step to improving responses to human trafficking/sexual exploitation is to learn more about the conditions that cause it, the signs to look out for, and how to better understand and support survivors.
How you can learn more and get involved:
Join us at ONWA’s live virtual event from 12:00-1:00 PM EST on Monday July 31, 2023, to learn about human trafficking and what it looks like in communities. Register at https://bit.ly/479wT48 or watch the livestream at ONWA’s Facebook page.
Read ONWA’s Journey to Safe Spaces Report, which documents the findings and recommendations from the largest ever engagement with Indigenous survivors and community conducted on human trafficking/sexual exploitation, with 3,300 community members including 250 self-identified survivors of human trafficking engaged.
Visit ONWA’s Human Trafficking Learning & Resource page: https://www.onwa.ca/learning-resources-ht
Reach out to ONWA’s Indigenous Anti-Human Trafficking Liaisons to learn how to initiate community conversations about human trafficking: 1-800-667-0816 or https://www.onwa.ca/contact-us
Join the UN Blue Heart Campaign: https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/blueheart/
Share, like and comment on the social media messages for the World Day #EndHumanTrafficking
Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-833-900-1010
ONWA Intake for Human Trafficking: 1-800-667-0816
For more information and media inquiries, contact:
Andre Morriseau, Communications Manager
Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA)