Ngookimisnaanuk Grandmothers Gathering Against Human Trafficking and International Bridge Walk

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Ngookimisnaanuk Grandmothers Gathering in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario is an event that seeks to bring together indigenous and non-indigenous persons from all walks of life to become more educated on the issue of human trafficking.

From Thursday, October 5th to Saturday, October 7th, interested persons are invited to join the Grandmothers at The Indian Friendship Centre for a free, three day gathering.

Through PACT Ottawa (Persons Against The Crime of Human Trafficking), ‘Project Northern Outreach’ supported a circle of Anishinaabe Grandmothers in 2015 to form an action alliance designed to understand the nature of human trafficking in their communities, and prevent human trafficking through advocacy, education of cultural teachings and healing practices.

An Anishinaabe worldview respects Grandmothers as authorities, educators and keepers of their cultural and foundational laws. Project Northern Outreach convened 3 gatherings of 12 respected grandmothers from along the shores of L. Huron, including the areas of Sault St Marie, Thessalon, Manitoulin Island, and Serpent River.

The idea for the 2017, 3 day gathering grew from the 2016 International Bridge Walk which took place last October. Approximately 60 people joined the Nookimis Grandmothers to walk for social justice from Lake Superior State University grounds – Norris Centre (Sault, Michigan) to the Indian Friendship Centre in Sault, Ontario.

Thursday, Oct. 5th, from 10 – 3 pm, an informal drop-in will take place, and persons are encouraged to come by the Indian Friendship Centre (IFC) to help create posters and banners for the International Bridge Walk. Light refreshments will be available. All are welcome to come out and share your creative talents.

On Friday, October 6th, Dr. Sheila Smith from The United Nations – Human Trafficking International – will be one of the keynote speakers. Dr. Smith will share insight into Human trafficking on a global scale, where she has been working at the UN to combat and educate countries about this horrific crime. Dr. Smith was formerly with PACT Ottawa, and was instrumental in the development of the PACT Nookomis Grandmothers. Dr. Smith is also planning to participate in the International Bridge Walk on the 7th.

Friday will also have renowned Indigenous activist Diane Redsky as a keynote speaker.

Diane Redsky is from Winnipeg, Manitoba and is active in the issue of human trafficking.  She is the Project Director of the Human Trafficking Task Force at the Canadian Women’s Foundation and is a past recipient of Governor General’s Award for her work with Indigenous women. She is the Executive Director of Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre Inc.

Friday’s guest speakers will also include Shelley Knott, ONWA – Thunder Bay (Ontario Native Women’s Association). Shelley Knott will give a presentation and update on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry.

Due to limited spaces for seating, on Friday, Oct. 6th, (9am -5pm) pre-registration is required and open to 150 people. Please call Marly Day at 705-971-3146 or Isabelle Meawasige at 705-849-3357 to register.  Lunch is provided.

On Saturday, October 7th, The 2nd Annual Ngookimisnaanuk International Bridge Walk will take place. The Bridge Walk will have support to get across to LSSU’s Norris Centre where the walk begins.

AJ Bus Lines (Sault, Ontario) have made three buses available – departing the Walmart (Bay Street) Parking lot – (The North-East area of p.lot.) – leaving at 7:30 am.

The ride is free – and open to anyone with the proper ID to cross the Bridge.

For folks who want to participate in The Bridge Walk, but can’t physically do the walk itself – one bus will follow along behind the walkers and will carry participants across the bridge.

Saturday’s walk will end at The Indian Friendship Centre where a light (free) luncheon will be provided.

Funding through INAC (Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada) has made this event possible. The Event is being hosted through a partnership with Batchewana First Nation – Nimkii-Naabkawagan Family Crisis Shelter, Ontario Native Women’s Association, The Metis Nation of Ontario, PACT Ottawa, and The Indian Friendship Centre.

Please join the Ngookimisnaanuk Grandmothers in elevating the message that human trafficking exists and it’s all around us.

The event can be found on Facebook here:www.facebook.com