OTTAWA – The Ontario government is launching 11 new community-based programs in Ottawa, Hamilton, London, Thunder Bay, Toronto and neighbouring Indigenous communities to prevent youth from becoming involved in gun violence, gang activity and victimization, including human trafficking. As part of Ontario’s Guns, Gangs and Violence Reduction Strategy these new intervention and prevention programs will help youth find meaningful alternatives to violence and achieve better outcomes.
“Our government is working with communities across the province to support youth, reduce crime and make Ontario safer,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. “We know it’s critical to intervene early and provide youth with supports that address the root causes that make them susceptible to violence and victimization, including through human trafficking.”
The 11 new programs, delivered by Black and Indigenous-led organizations, will support youth and young adults aged 12 to 29. Examples include:
- Afro Canadian Caribbean Association in Hamilton will deliver a community-based program to prevent crime, violence and increase awareness and self-confidence through a “Rites of Passage” African-centred approach designed to help Black youth make empowering decisions that will lead to positive outcomes.
- Tungasuvvingat Inuit in Ottawa will provide an anti-human trafficking program, grounded in Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, harm-reduction and peer-led approaches, that will support Inuit aged 12-29 with direct prevention, education, intervention and healing.
- Urban Rez Solutions Social Enterprise in Toronto will make social services more accessible to Black youth and provide employment readiness workshops, as well as a 36-week culturally relevant life skills and resiliency program, and one-on-one case management.
“Intervening early with children and youth at risk of being targeted for human trafficking is a critical part of our government’s strategy to combat this crime,” said Jane McKenna, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues. “These new programs will help prevent human trafficking, keep more young people safe and help youth find positive opportunities.”
This initiative supports Ontario’s Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy, Black Youth Action Plan and Pathways to Safety: Ontario’s Strategy in Response to the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and is another step the government is taking to respond to the needs of communities.
“Supporting youth and families is a critical part of our government’s Anti-Human Trafficking and Guns, Gangs and Violence Strategies to reduce violence and confront human trafficking crimes in Ontario communities,” said Attorney General Doug Downey. “We are determined to dismantle the criminal networks that prey on young and vulnerable people in our neighborhoods, and these encouraging new programs will help communities fight back against gun, drug, and human trafficking which fuels gang operations and the continued recruitment of at-risk youth and young adults.”