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ONWA launches campaign to educate public about human trafficking



Trigger warning: readers may be triggered by the mention of human trafficking. To access a 24-hour Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline, call: 1-833-900-1010. Community Assistance Program (CAP) can be accessed for citizens of the Anishinabek Nation: 1-800-663-1142.

Cora McGuire-Cyrette, ONWA’s executive director. – Photo supplied

By Sam Laskaris

THUNDER BAY – Representatives with the Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) have some new ways to get their messaging out.

The association launched a campaign on Feb. 22 titled, Educate yourself, Educate Others.

The campaign, urging Canadians to learn more about human trafficking, was purposely started on the National Awareness Day for Human Trafficking, which has been observed across the country since 2020.

Ontario had its own Human Trafficking Awareness Day a year earlier.

The new campaign, which will continue until Mar. 30, will include messaging via traditional billboards and digital billboards in various locations across the provinces, as well as posters on Toronto and Ottawa transit systems.

The messaging will allow anybody with a smartphone to scan a QR code and be connected to ONWA’s human trafficking resource page, which can be viewed here.

The new campaign will also include messaging on ONWA’s website and its social media accounts including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

“This is an issue that has been around for generations,” ONWA executive director Cora McGuire-Cyrette said of human trafficking. “And the public is just becoming aware of it now.”

McGuire-Cyrette said plenty of education still needs to be done on the issue.

“Women and girls are being exploited,” she said. “And there’s a misconception that women and girls choose to do this.”

Some progress, however, is being made. Since the beginning of April of 2022, McGuirre-Cyrette said a total of 426 Indigenous girls and women in the province had escaped from human trafficking.

“This is the scary part though,” McGuire-Cyrette said. “We know that this is only the ones who have been able to reach out [and escape].”

As part of the OWNA’s new campaign, traditional billboards have been placed in cities throughout the province, primarily where the association has offices. These locations are Petawawa, Kingston, Cornwall, Belleville/Quinte West, Orillia, Owen Sound, Hanover, Windsor, Chatham-Kent, Greater Sudbury, North Bay, and Sault Ste Marie.

Meanwhile, there are 40 digital billboards placed throughout the country’s most populous city, Toronto. Digital billboards can also be found in Ottawa, Hamilton, St. Catharines, and the three cities in the regional municipality of Waterloo (Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo).

Jennifer Richardson, the ONWA’s senior director of strategy and communications, said human trafficking and sexual exploitation are happening in every community in Ontario.

“Everyone needs to know the signs, so they can be part of the solution,” said Richardson, who is a survivor of human trafficking herself.

Richardson is confident the Educate yourself, Educate Others campaign will be considered a success.

“The message is designed to be geared towards the general public and for those who are being trafficked,” she said.

Richardson said she believes human trafficking awareness will be raised especially since studies have proven that posters on transit systems are extremely well-read.

Though she’s only been working with the ONWA for a short time, Richardson has 23 years of experience working in the anti-human trafficking sector.

She had a key role with Ontario’s provincial anti-human trafficking co-ordination office from its inception in 2016 until this past year.

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Mikinakoos Children’s Fund launches $15,000 fundraiser for GivingTuesday




Mikinakoos Children’s Fund aims to raise $15,000 to provide vital winter clothing to 18 First Nations, collaborating with the KO First Nations, Keewaytinook Internet Highschools, and Fort Hope First Nation on GivingTuesday on November 28, 2023. – Photo supplied

THUNDER BAY (November 22, 2023) — Mikinakoos Children’s Fund, an Indigenous children’s charity providing essentials to youth in remote First Nations in Northwestern Ontario, is announcing the launch of a special fundraiser in recognition of GivingTuesday.

In alignment with the global GivingTuesday movement, Mikinakoos Children’s Fund aims to raise $15,000 to provide vital winter clothing to 18 First Nations, collaborating with the KO First Nations, Keewaytinook Internet Highschools, and Fort Hope First Nation. The initiative seeks to purchase over 1,500 coats for children in these regions, ensuring they are equipped to brave the harsh winter months.

“The winter season can be particularly challenging in the remote areas we serve, where many children lack access to proper winter gear,” said Mikinakoos Executive Director Emily Shandruk. “Mikinakoos Children’s Fund believes that every child deserves the warmth of hope during the colder months. With this in mind, we’re launching this crucial campaign to make a positive impact.”

Recent support from TD Canada Trust’s Ready Commitment Funding, a $50,000 grant over two years, is boosting Mikinakoos Children’s Fund’s Warm Clothing initiatives, of which this initiative is a part. With growing requests from various communities and organizations, Mikinakoos’ GivingTuesday funding alone wouldn’t have sufficed. Thanks to the extra support, the charity can now ensure that no child is left without essential resources.

GivingTuesday, which falls on November 28, marks the opening day of the giving season—a global movement encouraging people to come together for a day of generosity and positive change. Mikinakoos invites individuals and organizations alike to join in the effort to make a difference.

Here’s how you can contribute:

Donate: Your contribution, regardless of size, will bring Mikinakoos Children’s Fund closer to its $15,000 goal. Every dollar counts. GivingTuesday falls on November 28; however, this fundraiser will run until December 31.
Spread the Word: Share our campaign on social media, with friends, family, and colleagues. Together, we can make a wider impact.

“The remoteness of the communities we serve presents challenges in shipping and distributing necessities, such as food, sporting equipment, and winter gear, especially with the absence of permanent roads,” said Shandruk. “Climate change has further exacerbated the inconsistency of ice road conditions, making the delivery of essential items even more difficult.”

Please consider contributing to Mikinakoos Children’s Fund’s GivingTuesday campaign through this link or by texting “WARMCOATS” to 807-500-1522. Interviews with spokespeople from Mikinakoos Children’s Fund are available upon request.

About Mikinakoos Children’s Fund

Mikinakoos Children’s Fund is a charity created to address poverty by providing basic amenities, such as food, clothing, and shelter to First Nations children residing in remote communities. Join us on this journey to create positive change and secure the safety and wellbeing First Nations children. Engage with Mikinakoos Children’s Fund on social through #FirstNationKidsFirst.


Victoria Belton
Senior Consultant
Media Profile
Tel: 416-992-5179

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