A multi-million dollar investment from the provincial government will help create new programs to support young victims and survivors of human trafficking throughout Northern Ontario.
On Tuesday, the province announced an investment of $15.3 million over five years to support services in Fort Frances, Kenora, Sioux Lookout, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Timmins, as well as 16 First Nation communities.
“This investment will make more supports available for survivors of sex trafficking in Northern Ontario, particularly addressing the need for more Indigenous-led services, survivor-led programming and specialized supports for children and youth,” said Jane McKenna, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues in a statement.
“These programs will help protect young people who are at risk and support those who have been trafficked to heal from their trauma and rebuild their lives.”
The funding will assist programming to protect and support youth who have been sexually exploited or are at risk and includes the Fort Frances Tribal Area Health Services, Indige-Spheres to Empowerment, Kenora Chiefs Advisory, Ontario Native Women’s Association, Sudbury and Area Victim Services and Timmins and Area Women in Crisis.
New programs include culturally appropriate support for Indigenous youth between the ages of 13 and 24 years old provided by the Kenora Chiefs Advisory and a youth response team providing early intervention and street-based outreach with response referrals to 10 ONWA locations throughout the north.
“ONWA is honoured to continue to do this important work. The expansion of our Courage for Change Program will begin to address gaps in specific services for Indigenous women and girls. With this investment, ONWA will focus on both immediate safety needs and ongoing healing for Indigenous women and girls,” said Cora McGuire-Cyrette, executive director of ONWA.
“Through continued implementation of ONWA’s Journey to Safe Spaces Strategy, we continue to honour the knowledge of survivors. This announcement represents one of the largest investments in Canada to an Indigenous Women’s agency to prioritize Indigenous Women’s safety.”
Throughout the province, 27 new projects are being funded through the Anti-Human Trafficking Community Supports and Indigenous-led Initiatives funds, which is part of the province’s $307 million Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy.
“We must support victims and protect those at risk of being subjected to human trafficking,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs and MPP for Kenora—Rainy River.
“This investment will provide more supports for victims and survivors in Northern Ontario, with a particular focus on increasing dedicated, Indigenous-led programs to help Indigenous children and youth who are at risk so they can stay safe, while also supporting those who have been trafficked through their recovery.”