As Indigenous communities in Ontario navigate the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Indigenous women and girls continue to suffer from the intersectional nature of gang involvement and human trafficking. Raising the awareness of the harsh reality of human trafficking in Ontario is everyone’s responsibility. The pandemic has driven these activities even further underground and consequently further out of sight.
Courageous conversations need to happen not only among Indigenous women, girls, and families but in the community with stakeholders such as government and organizations such as the Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA).
This year, ONWA is introducing an additional portfolio of Community Safety – Guns and Gangs focusing on research, engagement, and front-line experience. Indigenous women’s safety is the stability that builds the strength, resiliency, and empowerment that radiates outwardly to their families, community, nations, and the world.
Highlighting the importance of ONWA’s Community Safety Liaison program’s role will increase individual, community and service provider awareness around gang involvement, pathways and prevention.
ONWA emphasized the fundamental need for Indigenous women’s safety by placing it as the anchor within their recently released framework, Reconciliation with Indigenous Women: Changing the Story of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ (2020): Recommendation #1 – The Safety of Indigenous Women Must be at the Centre of the National Action Plan. With the addition of the Community Safety Liaison program and the new Courage expansion ONWA is successfully actioning on this recommendation across the province.
Indigenous women are reclaiming their traditional roles, inherent rights, responsibility, and positive relationships allowing communities to thrive from the inside outward. Their direct connection to Creation as life givers affirms their role at the core of their families.
By increasing awareness with a focus on prevention, building survivor and community capacity, advocacy, wrap-around support, and front-line crisis intervention, rooted in culture, ONWA remains committed to ending human trafficking, gangs, guns, and violence.
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