Ontario program forming Inuit survivors’ committee on sexual exploitation

Tungasuvvingat Inuit providing services to younger audiences though Alluriarniq program

Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s Alluriarniq program, which provides support to Inuit who have experienced sexual exploitation, is forming a survivor-led advisory committee to improve its culturally-specific supports, said acting manager Cecilia Perez. (File photo by Jim Bell)

By Madalyn Howitt

An Ontario program for Inuit survivors of sexual exploitation is forming a survivor-led committee and expanding its audience to improve its supports. 

Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s Alluriarniq program, which means “stepping forward,” helps Inuit who are engaged in sex work and are looking to exit the trade, or who have experienced sexual violence and abuse. 

Based in Ottawa, Alluriarniq’s nine staff members include counsellors, transition workers and an Inuk elder. They provide services like mobile outreach and education, and run workshops.

Alluriarniq’s acting manager, Cecilia Perez, says the group is in the process of forming an advisory committee that will help strengthen the Inuit traditional knowledge, or Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, in its programming. 

Perez said she is hoping to bring on at least five community members who have knowledge of or lived experience with anti-human trafficking efforts who would meet for one day every three months to share insights and recommendations with program leaders. 

“It basically helps us respond better to the community because it’s coming from that lens,” Perez said.

The plan is to have the program up and running this summer. 

The survivor’s committee is one of several recent developments in Alluriarniq’s programming.

Initially designed to serve Inuit survivors aged 16 years and older, Perez said $3.3 million received in 2020 from the Ontario government has helped the program start serving a younger audience, from the ages of 13 and up. 

“What that looks like is like going into settings where there’s youth, like at Inuuqatigiit [Centre for Inuit Children, Youth and Families] and Nunavut Sivuniksavut… to do presentations to flag our services and build an awareness that we’re here,” Perez said.

Perez’s team has also added two new full-time Inuit staff members, who are boosting their social media promotion and just this spring returned to offering in-person services in Ottawa and throughout Ontario after pandemic protections shifted their services online. 

“It’s a cultural support and it helps us with the Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit principles,” Perez said. 

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