Latest modern slavery fight updates -

Toronto Police Focus on Trafficked Indigenous Women

  • Published on
    February 21, 2019
  • News Source Image
  • Category:
    Human Trafficking, Rehabilitation & Liberation
Hero Banner

In a first, the Toronto police holding a conference this week that focuses on helping indigenous women and girls who are targeted by human traffickers.

Police are hearing from indigenous community leaders and survivors of trafficking, with the aim being to educate frontline police officers on issues facing the community.

“I want police to understand what is important to families, what they need from police officers, and I want them to know that it is a very delicate relationship,” said Meggie Cywink, a speaker whose sister was murdered in 1994.

CBC News reports:

Experts and survivors say Indigenous women and girls face unique challenges when it comes to human trafficking.

The women are often targeted in cities, where they are isolated from their home communities, explained Collin Graham, a community development manager for the Ontario Native Women’s Association.

“There’s a lot of vulnerabilities given the status of how Indigenous youth are growing up with a lack of resources that mainstream Canadians have,” he said.

Once they are lured into the trade, the women and girls can end up being used as sex workers or drug mules, Graham said. The women are targeted by traffickers in public spaces like homeless shelters and malls, and increasingly on social media, experts say.

For some police officers, the conference opened their eyes to the difficulties the indigenous community faces.

Const. Randall Arsenault, a Toronto police Aboriginal Liaison Officer in Scarborough, said a demonstration about residential schools was especially powerful.

“I’ve been to a lot of different events where they talk about residential schools … but the activities that we did today that was probably the most effective I’ve been a part of in my whole career,” Arsenault said.

For Cywink, the event was a positive step at mending the strained relations between police and the indigenous community, but added that only time will tell if real change will happen.

“In my heart, I want to believe that, and time will tell,” she said, adding that if police do make meaningful changes that the indigenous community would also need to change its attitudes towards them.

“It’s a two-way street.”


Freedom United is interested in hearing from our community and welcomes relevant, informed comments, advice, and insights that advance the conversation around our campaigns and advocacy. We value inclusivity and respect within our community. To be approved, your comments should be civil.

stop icon A few things we do not tolerate: comments that promote discrimination, prejudice, racism, or xenophobia, as well as personal attacks or profanity. We screen submissions in order to create a space where the entire Freedom United community feels safe to express and exchange thoughtful opinions.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

This week

U.N. rights chief urges end to E.U.'s support for Libyan Coast Guard

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, has called for an urgent review of the European Union's agreement with Libyan authorities to intercept and return migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Speaking at the Human Rights Council, Türk highlighted the alarming scale of “trafficking, torture, forced labor, extortion, and starvation” endured by returned migrants and asylum seekers. “It is unconscionable that people in

| Tuesday July 9, 2024

Read more