Ontario gives $3.3 million to Ottawa Inuit org to help survivors of human trafficking

“This investment provides significant support for Inuit survivors of human trafficking who have trusted Tungasuvvingat Inuit to help them on their healing journey from sexual exploitation,” says Jennisha Wilson, the Tungasuvvingat Inuit (TI) Alluriarniq program manager. (Joël Lamoureux/Courtesy Tungasuvvingat Inuit)
Tungasuvvingat Inuit (TI), the counselling and resource centre for Inuit in Ottawa, is receiving $3.3 million from the province of Ontario’s human trafficking strategy.

The funding will go towards the TI Alluriarniq program that helps survivors of human trafficking and current and past sex workers. 

“For individuals working through the violence and experience of being trafficked, healing takes time, and trauma-work often out-lives project funding,” said Jennisha Wilson, the Alluriarniq program manager, in a news release December 14.

“This investment provides significant support for Inuit survivors of human trafficking who have trusted Tungasuvvingat Inuit to help them on their healing journey from sexual exploitation.”

The Alluriarniq program (pictured here in Ottawa) has supported more than 75 Inuit leaving sexual exploitation circumstances since 2017, TI says. (Joël Lamoureux/Courtesy Tungasuvvingat Inuit)

Ontario’s anti human trafficking strategy 2020-2025 describes sexual exploitation and sex traffcking as …”one of the fastest growing crimes worldwide” and has pledged $46-million spread out over 27 projects in the province.

The strategy also highlights the vulnerability of Inuit and First Nations Canadians to exploitation.

“As Indigenous women and girls are particularly targeted, it is critical that culturally-appropriate supports are available,” the government of Ontario says on their website.

Inuit-specific resource

Among other initiatives, TI says the new funding will enable them to help more survivors of human trafficking as well as hire, mentor and train more full-time Inuit workers for the program.

“TI and the Alluriarniq program are grateful and will continue to provide on-the-ground immediate support to Inuit being recruited and groomed for sexual exploitation,” Wilson said.

“This work is essential and timely; human trafficking continues to disproportionately impact Indigenous communities. As TI, as an organization provides supports to urban Inuit, it should be noted that urban environments add a level of complexity to this issue as some Inuit are dealing with racism, discrimination, and socioeconomic disparities.”

Downtown Ottawa on March 23, 2020. Ottawa is home to the largest Inuit population (an estimated 3,700 to 6,000 people) outside of the Inuit homeland in northern Canada. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Since 2017, TI says Alluriarniq has supported more than 75 Inuit leaving sexual exploitation circumstances and has helped over 2000 Inuit in the streets through mobile outreach.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca 

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: National inquiry calls murders and disappearances of Indigenous women a ‘Canadian genocide’, CBC News

Finland: Swedish-speaking Finnish women launch their own #metoo campaign, Yle News

Sweden: Report sheds light on Swedish minority’s historic mistreatment, Radio Sweden

United States: Alaska reckons with missing data on murdered Indigenous women, Alaska Public Media

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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