Message From Our Chair

Thank you for visiting the official website of the Ottawa Coalition to End Human Trafficking (OCEHT)!

2018 has been a busy but exciting year so far! So busy in fact, that we have had to delay the publication of our third OCEHT Annual Report on Barriers to Accessing Services by Trafficked Persons in the National Capital Region (Jan 2017 – Dec 2017) until now. Please click on the title to access this report! By identifying gaps in access to and availability of services, supports and resources, it emphasizes areas where service improvement, further service development or partnership is required, or where services are simply non-existent and therefore require particular attention / action on part of legislators, policy developers and/or funding schemes. It is our hope that this report will go a long way in affecting positive change in the local response to human trafficking.

The OCEHT is also building on progress made on initiatives initiated in previous years, most especially the NOT HERE! Hotel Initiative. Progress is slow but steady and well worth the time and efforts taken to ensure that these initiatives are launched in the most effective and impactful way. We hope that once launched, these initiatives will – in the long-term – serve well in supporting the rescue and recovery of persons affected by human trafficking.

Sadly, human trafficking in the NCR continues. Our training is making progress in reaching traditional and non-traditional service providers that assist those affected, but with few resources to work with, our progress has been slow. That said, we are very excited to have received funding this year from the provincial government to advance our Hotel Initiative, and to address some of the long-standing deficits in specialized training through a week-long training workshop in June 2018. This training was customized for grass roots, frontline professionals working directly with persons who have been trafficked with the aim of enhancing the current response to those who have suffered at the hands of traffickers. Given our philosophy of not charging for knowledge, we offered this training free of charge to frontline professionals across the province. Turnout and feedback indicate that this was a very successful workshop and our hope is to be able to offer similar training opportunities in the future.

As more frontline workers are trained and community members are informed, progress in the fight against human trafficking is being realized however slow the pace; and while the community of people / organizations that are engaged in this fight is growing, it continues to be quite small overall, with few resources to work with. Amidst challenges related to funding and resources, I have witnessed first hand the passion and dedication of this community to making a difference. I feel honoured to have been a part of that community over the past four years, and to have been able to contribute in such a meaningful way through my work for this organization. I believe in the work of the Coalition and in its potential to have an even greater impact than it already does. As I step down from my role as Chair at the end of the Summer of 2018, I know that there is more to come. OCEHT members and volunteers, under the leadership of the new Chair – Garifalia Milousis – are committed and passionate individuals motivated by one aim – to end human trafficking in our community! By aligning its activities to target the challenges faced by persons exiting a trafficking situation and the gaps in the response they receive, the Coalition is poised to realize new successes and achievements. I am excited for the work ahead and for the positive changes that it will have!

With that, I would like to thank all of the incredible people I have met and with whom I have collaborated, networked, weathered many challenges, celebrated numerous achievements, and gotten to know over these past four years. Thank you for your commitment, dedication, perseverance, integrity, knowledge, guidance, strength and even at times, counselling, as we worked together to make a difference and to make the Coalition an organization that has a positive impact on the lives of trafficked persons in our community. These past four years have been a journey of profound personal and professional growth for me; one from which I have learned a great deal and will forever cherish. Although sad to leave the Coalition, it is a personal decision, which I feel is necessary. I have every confidence in the new leadership and know that she will make great strides in advancing the mandate of the Coalition. Please join me in welcoming the new Chair!

In the meantime, do check this website regularly and GET INVOLVED by becoming a member; volunteering; requesting training; making a donation, or simply talking about this issue to your friends, neighbours, colleagues, acquaintances and family members. Keeping this issue on the forefront of socio-economic, political, legal and community discourse affirms that we are dedicated to eradicating this horrible crime in our communities. At the same time, the more the OCEHT grows and the more resources it has, the more services it can provide, thereby extending its reach and increasing its impact! Be the change you want to see in the world; and change will come!

Zaneta Miranbigi
August 2018

Message From Incoming Chair

I feel it is important to start by recognizing that the work Zaneta has done in collaboration with other OCEHT members, partners, and volunteers is absolutely unprecedented. She has dedicated years of her life to combatting human trafficking in the NCR, as well as working collaboratively and providing a platform for local organizations and frontline service providers to come together, learn from and support one another in their quest to meet the needs of those who have exited or are exiting a trafficking situation. Zaneta has been a passionate force for compassionate care and change. Even as she is stepping back from her work with the OCEHT, she is leaving behind an unparalleled legacy in the history of the Coalition, and as one core member told me “you have big shoes to fill”. I want to say that I am up for the challenge and the journey that lies ahead! I also want to say thank you to Zaneta for bringing the Coalition to where it is and for working with me as I transition into this role.

As we move forward as a Coalition, it is my mission to honour the vision that Zaneta and the OCEHT members, supporters, and volunteers have all contributed to creating. My motivation as the Chair of the OCEHT is simple: to serve those frontline workers who are providing vitally important resources and services to survivors of human trafficking; to support OCEHT members, partners, and volunteers as we work collaboratively to support victims and empower survivors in the NCR; and to influence positive change towards an end to human trafficking and exploitation, regardless of the form it takes.

I recognize that the contributions made thus far, and that are yet to be made by the OCEHT in the fight against human trafficking are possible only because of the contributions of countless passionate individuals, who donate their time and expertise on a consistent basis, and who combined have formed a powerful force for positive change. I am excited to join this incredible group of individuals! I look forward to working with each of you along with the rest of the OCEHT family, as well as the NCR community, to continue on with the amazing work that has been taking place, as well as to embark on some new initiatives to break ground in new areas of the anti-trafficking fight.

Thank you all for your ongoing support of the OCEHT!

Garifalia Milousis
September 2018