#safeSPACES a Key Strategy for Reflection on International Women’s Day

On March 8th the Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) celebrates International Women’s Day as a way to inspire and honour achievements, while encouraging greater advancements and equality.

As ONWA’s Executive Director I was honoured when, in 2017, ONWA was selected to deliver the Indigenous Anti-Human Trafficking Liaisons (IAHTL) Project under Ontario’s Strategy to End Human Trafficking. We had been working to bring this issue to the public’s attention for over a decade. Since the implementation of this important project, ONWA has worked closely with six key partners to establish the strong networks and relationships that are key to safely exiting Indigenous women and girls from human traffickers and gangs. Most importantly, we listened to and engaged with the brave survivors who shared their lived experiences as they are the experts.

ONWA has developed 14 recommendations based on extensive engagement with over 3,360 community members and the ongoing relationship with 250 self-identified human trafficking survivors who have shared their stories. We propose to implement these recommendations through a six part strategy that is rooted in relationship and collaboration:

  • Survivor-centred and survivor-informed services that are culture and gender based and delivered in a trauma-informed approach.
  • Prevention through education, training and public awareness campaigns (both in print and in person), targeting those who are most at risk and those who can respond first to the signs, namely peers, parents and educators.
  • Access to safe and respectful spaces at service delivery agencies that offer women only programming, so women can speak openly and without fear about their experiences.
  • Core supports for transitioning to a new life, including emergency funding for immediate relocation, which is delivered in an expedient and efficient manner to ensure women and girls have no wait times to safety.
  • Evidence-based policy and system-reform informed by survivor expertise and the successful extraction of Indigenous women by ONWA’s multi-partner collaborative network, which works across government disciplines and professions.
  • Streamlined supports offered through a barrier free simplified process.

It is key that when a victim is identified, all barriers are removed to ensure they are survivors. #safeSPACES

On International Women’s Day the Ontario Native Women’s Association continues to address Human Trafficking which is as much a local issue as it is provincial, national and international. We stand with all women and girls today and everyday. #balanceforbetter #IWD2019

Cora McGuire-Cyrette, ONWA Executive Director

For more information, please contact:

Andre Morriseau, Communications Manager

Email: amorriseau@onwa.ca | Phone: (647) 970-7661


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