New funding support for victims of human trafficking
Mike Lawrence - Staff Writer
On September 28, the Ontario Government announced new funding in support of victims of human trafficking. The funding, 15.3 million over five years, is aimed at providing more supports for young victims and survivors of human trafficking in the Northern Ontario region.
Locally the extra funding, being provided to the Sunset Woman’s Aboriginal Circle (SWAC), an organization that (is) a chapter of the Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA), is going to be used to hire and train two additional crisis workers.
The Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services released a statement that read in part, “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.”
Minister of Indigenous Affairs and MPP for Kenora - Rainy River Greg Rickford stated, “We must support victims and protect those at risk of being subjected to human trafficking. 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.”
According to the StatsCan website, as of 2019, Ontario’s number of human trafficking incidents represented a rate that is almost double the national rate for this crime, with 2019’s numbers showing an upward trend over previous years.
As Tana Troniak, Chair of the Board for SWAC explains, “The Sunset Woman’s Aboriginal Circle (SWAC), is an organization that (is) a chapter of ONWA. Because we are our own organization, we apply for funding…through ONWA, so the (Crisis Workers) will be employees of SWAC. The job posting is out, so what it’s going to mean is that we will have workers that can work with the police, or any other services, like community services, to help navigate if we have women who’ve been exploited, who have been human trafficked or abused.” Troniak added, “I think for Sioux Lookout what it is bringing is two more crisis workers who are going to be more experienced in human trafficking, have links to ONWA to get them into safer spaces, and as a group work with a big organization that has lots of leads.”
Troniak concluded, “ONWA’s been doing it a little while so (we’ll be) really using their expertise for our workers that are going to be hired…ONWA’s going to provide all the training and all the tools as well.”