At a societal level, in order to address human trafficking, intersectional issues such as poverty, homelessness, and education must also be addressed, as Indigenous women might compromise their safety in order to fulfill their basic needs. Restoring Indigenous women as leaders in their families, communities, and nations provides the opportunity to change these issues collectively.
Colonization destabilized and destroyed foundational elements of Indigenous society and community on the road to building prosperity. This prosperity remains elusive to most Indigenous people, whose experience has far too often been one of poverty and violence—something that continues to plague their women, girls, and communities. In order to end the cycle of human trafficking, a common humanity needs to replace the walls of indifference between colonial systems such as social services, child welfare, and education systems.
There is much work to be done in building equitable respect for Indigenous women and girls. Ensuring their safety from the clutches of human trafficking across the street or across town, in the cities and remote communities, is a national priority that goes unheeded. And it is a national priority because it affects Indigenous women and girls in communities throughout Canada.
Stories of Indigenous women’s strength, leadership, and resilience are almost invisible in the media. It is the collective responsibility of journalists to take the opportunity on Human Trafficking Awareness Day to change misguided public perceptions, not reinforce them. Behind every human trafficking story is a human story. The story of someone’s mother, sister, daughter who is fighting against overwhelming odds to lead the safe prosperous life that each and every one of them deserves.