Canada’s indigenous women only make up 4% of the population, yet according to a study conducted in 2014 are roughly 50% of all trafficking victims.
Research has shown that the "oppressive and harmful federal and provincial government policies including the Indian Act, residential schools, the sixties scoop, over-representation of Indigenous children in the child welfare system, and the under-funding of Indigenous social programs such as health care, legal services and infrastructure have negatively impacted Indigenous communities and families across Canada.
These policies are contributing factors to high rates of depression, substance use, unsafe housing, low education rates, high rates of domestic abuse and violence, poverty, and inter-generational trauma, leaving many Indigenous women and girls at a high risk for sexual exploitation."
- (Turkington, 2016)
Because Indigenous people are at high risk of victimization and being affected at disproportionate levels, culturally-specific programs and support systems are needed.
The Ontario Native Women's Association (ONWA) has developed and expanded the Aakwa’ode’ewin - Courage for Change Program to address the unique needs of Indigenous women, youth, and girls that are affected by sexual exploitation. This program allows for anyone who wishes to report their exploitation to do so with a advocate that will support them during the process.
The Indigenous Anti-Human Trafficking Liaison (IAHTL) Program also supports Indigenous communities in providing survivor focused and localized responses to human trafficking.
To learn more about how to address, prevent and end the sexual exploitation of Indigenous women and youth, visit the Speak Out: Stop Sex Trafficking program which provides downloadable materials, and culturally relevant activities to help raise awareness and provide support.
Sources: "Human Trafficking of Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada", Derek Turkington (2016)
"Trafficking of Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada", Native Women's Association of Canada (2018)
"Ontario Native Women’s Association launches program for human trafficking survivors", The Star (2021)