THUNDER BAY – The Ontario government is investing more than $15.3 million over five years in new programs to provide more young victims and survivors of human trafficking in Northern Ontario with the services they need. This funding will support new services in Fort Frances, Kenora, Sioux Lookout, Thunder Bay, Sudbury and Timmins, as well as five remote and 11 rural First Nation communities, with programs provided by Fort Frances Tribal Area Health Services, Indige-Spheres to Empowerment, Kenora Chiefs Advisory, Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA), Sudbury and Area Victim Services and Timmins & Area Women in Crisis. Providing better protection and increased supports for children and youth who have been sexually exploited or are at risk is a key focus of Ontario’s strategy to combat human trafficking.
“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. “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 new programs in Northern Ontario include:
- Wrap-around, culturally appropriate supports provided by Kenora Chiefs Advisory for Indigenous children and youth aged 13 to 24, including one-on-one support, counselling, referrals and mental health support.
- A youth response team of specialized workers and peer mentors with lived experience providing early intervention, street-based outreach, immediate response and referrals in 10 ONWA locations, including Kenora, Sioux Lookout, Thunder Bay and Timmins.
- Trauma-informed supports provided by Sudbury and Area Victim Services in English and French for youth aged 14 to 18, including learning path and skills development, youth drop-ins and outreach programs.
“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.”
These new programs are funded through Ontario’s Anti-Human Trafficking Community Supports and Indigenous-led Initiatives funds to increase services across the province. The government is investing a total of $96 million in community-based services and Indigenous-led supports for victims and survivors of human trafficking over five years as part of the province’s Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy 2020-2025.
“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.”
In total, 27 new projects are being funded through the Anti-Human Trafficking Community Supports and Indigenous-led Initiatives funds to provide a more comprehensive network of supports across the province. This investment is part of Ontario’s $307-million Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy to raise awareness of the issue, protect victims and intervene early, support survivors and hold offenders accountable.
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