Sheila Wahsquonaikezhik and the damage caused by human trafficking – Anishinabek News

February 3, 2023

SAULT STE. MARIE, ON – Attendees were shocked and in tears while hearing stories about human trafficking and the horrors that come with it, but also don’t expect this lucrative multi-billion dollar industry to go anywhere anytime soon.

Sheila Wahsquonaikezhik, a member of Batchewana First Nation, holds a Masters in Environmental Studies from York University. Her expertise lies in Program Development for First Nations and organizations.

She spoke about human trafficking and how it is connected to the wider context of colonialism. She was trafficked between the ages of 14 and 17 internationally, specifically between Ontario and New York, NY, while in the care of the child welfare system.

Wahsquonaikezhik spoke about the pain, grief, and suffering that comes from colonization and human trafficking.

“When we look at the notion of colonization, the language itself lends itself to human trafficking and describes what has been done to us over the last centuries of this process of colonization – which we’re not over with yet,” she said. “The first step is incursion, which is the forced entry into a geographical area. If you think about that language, it really sounds like rape, doesn’t it? And that’s the first step of colonization. The destructive effects on social and cultural structures, political, economic, spiritual, and the disregard for values and norms is exactly what happens when you traffic.”

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