How did you become involved in the movement against human trafficking?
The reason why I became a part of the movement is because of my past as a child survivor and as a First Nations voice. I saw that for First Nations women there was very little representation in the movement. I also used my experience as a trafficked child. I was exploited at a very young age and felt that all the adults, professional and family, did a lot of nothing to help me, and in some ways, they made it worse. I was tired of being looked down on and blamed by society.
In Canada, there are so many First Nations girls who get caught up in the cycle of exploitation – we are seeing them enslaved as young as eleven years of age. Also there are an extremely high number of murdered and missing First Nations women; it is estimated in the amount of 3000. It is more likely if you are First Nations to be effected by colonialism.
I was also upset with the recent charter challenge in the legalization for prostitution. I truly believe that human trafficking and prostitution go hand and hand. I believe as a First Nations woman that I need to be a strong voice and role model for my people, especially our girls.
What draws you to support and advocate for people enslaved by traffickers?
I think it is my own experiences that help me to be able to support enslaved women. I also feel that I have a much deeper understanding of the psychological and social aspect of trafficking and exploitation. I am sick of those who feel they can help a survivor but end up being contradicting and causing more damage than good. It is so great when I see a victim turn into a survivor – it is, to me, like watching my child walk for the first time. I do this for the survivors and to prevent those from having to do the unthinkable. We need to understand that this is not a ‘choice’ and that little girls don’t aspire to service a multitude of different men.
What does your work involve?
My work involves education, advocacy and bringing changes to legislation. We, at Sextrade101, are the only activism group run by experiential women in Canada. We are working alongside police and legislators so we can truly and honestly educate and dispel the myths, such as that this is a ‘choice’. We must look at what our communities’ roles are too in dealing with trafficking and traffickers.
What legal improvements or changes would help to abolish human trafficking?
I feel we need to implement legislation that holds the demand accountable. I also feel we need to start putting the pressure on the buyer by registering them as sex offenders and making them accountable for their actions. Some countries that have adapted the Nordic model have seen a major drop in prostitution and sex trafficking. We need to address our communities and hold our cities up to making an effort by not allowing the licensing of massage parlors, strip clubs and escort agencies.
For anyone else who wants to be involved, what can other people do to help?
We need communities to stand by and support our women by providing safe and affordable housing, education and jobs, and to reeducate those who feel this is a ‘choice’. We also need to stand unified against the legalization of prostitution because it isn’t someone else’s daughter – it could end up being yours.
What are your plans for the future?
My plans are many; I would like to finish law school and continue to raise my four children and of course, to continue being a social justice activist. I also see Sextrade101 expanding and carrying on the unified voice so we can keep our women safe and our communities educated.
Recommended websites/further reading:
- A French translation of this interview can be read here.