After seven years of collaboration, the Northeastern Ontario Research Alliance on Human Trafficking (NORAHT) has concluded its research on the gaps and barriers to women experiencing exploitation, violence, or abuse in the sex industry.
NORAHT is comprised of representatives from Nipissing University, the Union of Ontario Indians: Anishinabek Nation, Victim Services of Nipissing District, and Centered Fire Counselling and Consulting. Past partners include the AIDS Committee of North Bay and Area and Amelia Rising Sexual Assault Centre of Nipissing.
The report suggests seven principles to building collaborative networks or coalitions:
- Focus on supporting those who have experienced harm and violence and ask for help. Don’t assume to know better than trafficked persons what their unique needs are at any given time.
- Involve persons with lived experiences (trafficking survivors, their families, sex workers) in the paid circle of care. This includes the design, management, and evaluation of programs, as well as community outreach and peer support.
- Employ holistic, non-judgmental, trauma and violence-informed approaches, and harm reduction.
- Provide culturally relevant supports that draw on Indigenous and experiential knowledge.
- Maintain open communication and common referral protocols, and the tracking of data within the collaborative network.
- Commit to providing 24/7, flexible, and individually tailored support for several years for each trafficked person.
- Provide support that is relational and holistic. Building healthy relationships within families, communities, and between service providers and trafficked persons is key to support and healing.
The report was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada,
NORAHT’s research has resulted in the development of five policy briefs highlighting key recommendations with regard to:
- Strategies for Service Provider Collaboration;
- Trauma and Violence-Informed Approaches to Service Provision;
- Decolonizing our Actions;
- Safer Spaces and Harm Reduction; and
- The Impacts of Anti-Human Trafficking on Sex Workers.
“This has been a tremendous journey and we would like to thank everyone who participated in this research,” said Rosemary Nagy, NORAHT Co-Director and Associate Professor, Nipissing University. “One key lesson we learned through this research was the need to provide services to everyone involved in the sex industry who asks for support, regardless of how they identify their experience.”
Among other findings, the group has produced a report titled “Transitions and Fluidities: Exploring Women’s Agency in the Sex Industry”, which centres on the voices of women with lived experience in sex work and/or human trafficking.
“The prevention of human trafficking requires so much more than awareness campaigns,” said Co-Director Brenda Quenneville, Centered Fire Counselling and Consulting. “Our research highlights the importance of dismantling ongoing colonialism and institutionalized racism, reforming the laws around human trafficking and sex work, and tackling poverty and the lack of safer and affordable housing in the region.”
For further information about NHTKN, please contact Kathleen Jodouin, Executive Director, Victim Services of Nipissing District at [email protected] or 705-472-2649.
Research findings including webinars, academic articles, and older reports can be found here.
Meanwhile, The Ontario government is spending $46 million in the Anti-Human Trafficking Community Supports and Indigenous-led Initiatives funds. They provide critical supports to children and youth who have experienced sexual exploitation, as well as survivor-led programming and Indigenous-specific services. The funding will be provided to 27 community-based projects and is part of the province’s $307 million Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy, which aims to raise awareness of the issue, protect victims and intervene early, support survivors, and hold offenders accountable.