September 25, 2023
22% of ACT Alberta clients identify as First Nations, Inuit, or Métis. It's important to understand the unique vulnerabilities that Indigenous people face such as discrimination, violence and abuse, inter-generational trauma, lack of cultural support and for community members, underfunded services, and often the physical barrier or living in a rural region.
Understanding how to prevent exploitation IS understanding how to end exploitation.
“One of the biggest risk factors for Indigenous children and youth to be exploited is displacement from community. Being isolated from the community often means they do not realize there is communitysupport available and people who are willing to help them,” says Monique Letendre, Métis Family Resource Worker at the Métis Nation of Alberta, “the majority of requests that come from community are for support with reunification, especially cultural support. Community members do see culture as a way to bring family members back together.”
Understanding culture and fostering community is one of the most important factors in the prevention of human trafficking and we recognize how important it is to work closely with Indigenous led organizationsto help Indigenous victims and survivors heal in traditional ways.
We are working diligently to grow our network of Indigenous service providers who bring a wealth of knowledge and cultural practices that are fundamental in creating and maintaining community and relationships for Indigenous communities.
Jaqueline Peeace and Jaiden Kuchinka are the developers of the Makwa Dodem program with Ally Global Foundation. Makwa Dodem is an Indigenous-led program working to equip and empower Indigenous communities to prevent sexual exploitation. The program focuses on community-led prevention training, strengths-based programming, intentional partnerships and advocacy. Makwa Dodem is Ojibway for “bear clan”. Members of the bear clan traditionally focus on the well-being and healing in protection of their people. Many Indigenous communities believe that culture is prevention that there is so much traditional wisdom that brings healing.
“Indigenous clients are seeking culturally relevant programs and seeking those spaces that are safe and based in relationships,”says Jaiden, “when connecting with community members it’s just so crucial to first develop a foundation of trust and build relationships that are transparent by sharing our intentions. One program fits all is not going to work. Each community will have different needs.”
Jaqueline adds that generalizing red flags is hard when working with Indigenous communities because there may be a whole new layer of red flags in each community that we as outsiders would never recognize. “There are general red flags, but then depending on where you are and what community you are in, there is different language that we wouldn’t recognize as a red flag,” she adds, “It would just seem just like a regular term to us, but people in the community would recognize what the connotation of that word is.”
A coalition is an alliance for combined action, and as such, working with organizations like Ally Global Foundation and Métis Nation of Alberta is crucial for ACT Alberta to continue providing appropriate services to victims and survivors.
If you would like to learn more, you can view our webinar: Human Trafficking in Alberta - Providing Services for Indigenous Victimsand Survivors here.
Interested in working with us or do you have questions? Reach out to us!
We are always grateful for knowledge sharing and allyship in the fight to #endhumantrafficking.