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In comparison, Covenant House also does a lot of work with human trafficking victims and survivors. The Urban Response Model is implementing a comprehensive anti-trafficking plan that includes measures ranging from prevention to enhanced victim services, including its transitional housing program, The Rogers Homes, as well as a research and evaluation component (Covenant House, 2017). Covenant House provides stable housing, access to addiction and mental health counselling, access to employment and education programs, survivor peer support, mentorship and frequent check-ins from consistent workers. The assistance and programs are critical to ensure that victims do not relapse (Covenant House, 2017). Covenant House has assisted trafficking victims for three decades through their crisis shelter and in 2016, they opened The Rogers Home, a residential program for trafficked girls to serve their specialized needs (Covenant House, 2017). A prime example of Covenant House’s assistance to victims is demonstrated through Amy’s story. Amy struggled with self-esteem. She drank and partied excessively to find some belonging and escape. This is when she met Ryan, Amy fell madly in love. After two months together, Ryan complained to Amy that he was in terrible debt, so she lent him some money. He asked Amy to work as an escort for a short time so they would have enough money to build a life together. She agreed. Amy did not know that this was always Ryan’s plan. He was a drug dealer and a petty criminal who was looking to expand his enterprise. When Amy began to work at the massage parlour, she was expected to work 12-hour days. She would have sex with about eight men a day, making over $2,000 daily that she would dutifully surrender. One day she decided it was time to escape, so in the middle of the night, she fled her tormentor. With the help of Covenant House, Amy was able to get the help she needed, recover from her addictions, and work towards a brighter future (Covenant House, 2017). Covenant House, deals with many cases such as Amy’s. These young women need specialized care in a safe, non-judgmental space alongside other girls with shared experiences. One that offers life skills, educational and vocational assistance, and trauma and addiction counselling for trafficked girls to build a life free from exploitation.
A major issue associated with human trafficking in Canada is the amount of Indigenous women lured into the human trafficking industry. Aboriginal women and girls are easy prey for human traffickers because they are more likely to suffer from poverty, drug addictions and mental health problems. Women and girls are forced into the sex trade by pimps acting as boyfriends, small, loosely defined gangs and even members of their own families (“Aboriginal Women, girls target for human trafficking,” 2014). The Canadian government’s relationship with Indigenous peoples has been an unhealthy one, Justin Trudeau is the first Canadian Prime Minister to promise on behalf of the Canadian government that they would do better to improve the lives of Aboriginal Canadians and achieve reconciliation, this includes the issue of human trafficking among Indigenous peoples. Trudeau states, “We have been working hard, in partnership with other orders of government, and with indigenous leaders in Canada, to correct past injustices and bring about a better quality of life for Indigenous Peoples in Canada,” (“Justin Trudeau vows to do better,” 2017). Representatives from national aboriginal organizations and federal and provincial governments met in Ottawa for a national meeting on missing and murdered First Nations women. They discussed the causes, like human trafficking, and the steps to take in order to prevent them and support the survivors (“Human Trafficking is part of the story,” 2015). The trafficking of aboriginal women and girls requires solutions, these include better training and more resources for police human trafficking units, amending the legal definition of human trafficking to aid in prosecution, offering more support for victims and addressing the chronic poverty and lack of family support in aboriginal communities (“Human Trafficking is part of the story,” 2015). The Ontario Native Women’s Association is a non-profit organization that empowers and supports Aboriginal women and their families. ONWA is committed to being the voice of Aboriginal women in Ontario and to building relationships with all levels of government and other organizations to ensure all Aboriginal women and their families will live free from social and economic distress and to promote their roles as valued and respected members in the community (Ontario Native Women’s Association, 2017). ONWA delivers culturally enriched programs and services to Aboriginal women and their families regardless of their status. ONWA as an organization is a provincial network of Aboriginal women governed by a Board of Directors all working together to achieve equality and justice for Aboriginal women, their families and communities (Ontario Native Women’s Association, 2017). The Mandate of the Ontario Native Women’s Association is to address violence against Aboriginal women and empower and support all Aboriginal women and their families through research, advocacy, policy development and programs that focus on local, regional and provincial activities (Ontario Native Women’s Association, 2017). In Canada, Indigenous women and girls are vastly and disturbingly over-represented in all human trafficking and thus increased attention must be paid to the issue.The Ontario Native Women’s Association, will launch a Human Trafficking Response Team to respond 24/7 to women at risk of, or leaving, a trafficking situation. A range of services will be offered, using an approach that honours the voices of women with lived experience (Ontario Native Women’s Association, 2017). ONWA has worked to develop a culture based gender analysis tool and with further resources, this tool, along with ONWA’s influential work in prevention, and analysis of violence against Indigenous women and girls, will be instrumental in further developing a culture based gender analysis on the issue. For Indigenous women and girls, sex trafficking is an issue of health and overall wellness. In order for the problem to be addressed, root causes and culture based solutions require more research and policy development (Ontario Native Women’s Association, 2017). The end result of a network of research and policy development must result in enhanced choice and expanded socio-economic outcomes for Indigenous women and girls. Ending trafficking is essential to the overall eradication of violence against Indigenous women and girls. This effort will require a preventative approach as well as culturally rooted services for those recovering from trafficking.