“We do know what we’re doing. Listen to us. Listen to us. We can identify the problems and we know what’s happening out there.” –Rebecca Begg, Lived Experience Leader

“I care about their soul, their inner being, letting them know they’re loved, cared about, and that there is hope.” – Martha, Lived Experience Leader

“It’s so important to be inclusive of all voices.” –Kim Trossel, Lived Experience Leader

“Love yourself to the fullest. You are pure essence of love. We all are.” –Elder Belinda Vandenbroeck, Co-Founder of Clan Mothers Healing Village

“We’re all children of the earth.” -Elder Mae Louise Campbell, Co-Founder of Clan Mothers Healing Village

“When you are in a relationship, you’re walking side by side, not one in front of the other.” –Elder Charlotte Nolin, Lived Experience Leader

“We need to teach men again about the true meaning of love.”
-Elder Mae Louise Campbell, Co-Founder of Clan Mothers Healing Village

“Balance is so important. [I am a] psychologist that does the diagnosing, but I also go to ceremony, [and] do the smudging. […] Knowing how to walk in between worlds is very important.” –Joanna Gladue, Lived Experience Leader

“We’re gonna get through this as an individual, but we’re going to get through this as a community too.” -Holley Kroonen, Lived Experience Leader

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EXPERIENCE LEADERSHIP

Experiential Voices National Knowledge Gatherings
on Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking:
A Project Led by Clan Mothers Healing Village

Lived
Experience
Leadership

What
Has
Worked

What
Is
Working

What
Needs To
Be Done

Why It Came About

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Why It
Came About

Clan Mothers

This project led by Clan Mothers Healing Village (Clan Mothers) celebrates the lived experience leadership, stories, knowledge, solutions, and actions of persons with lived experiences of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking.

National knowledge gatherings of experiential voices were held across Canada to acknowledge, honour, and learn from persons with lived experience.

Guided by Indigenous Elders, matrilineal ancestral teachings, knowledge, and worldviews, the national collective of experiential voices, leaders, partners, and allies featured in this project share what the solutions are to dismantle sexual exploitation and sex trafficking.

The first-hand experiences, insights, powerful responses, strength, resiliency, and innovative projects, actions, and solutions of the diverse contributors provide a path forward for meaningful and transformational change, ensuring action is taken in a good way to end sexual exploitation and sex trafficking.

For far too long, lived experience voices have been pushed aside or overlooked. Problematically, their invaluable expertise and savoir-faire as content experts have not been prioritized or respected to guide counter sexual exploitation and sex trafficking initiatives.

In 2018, Clan Mothers Healing Village (Clan Mothers) started defining the focus for a nation-wide project. We called out to lived experience leaders across Canada, asking them to share their lived experience leadership, identify what has worked in the past, what is working now, and outline what still needs to be done.

This digital media website is the outcome of this exciting initiative. It celebrates the stories, knowledge, solutions, work, and leadership of persons with lived experiences of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking.

In doing so, it diverts attention away from the victimization pieces related to sexual exploitation and sex trafficking, going beyond them to acknowledge and honour persons with lived experience for their powerful responses, strength, resiliency, rich diversity and inclusivity, innovative prevention and intervention projects, actions, and solutions.

The collective of diverse experiential voices, Indigenous Elders, leaders, partners, and allies that have come together for this project know what the solutions are to dismantle sexual exploitation. These solutions are grounded in the voices of persons with lived experience leadership as well as matrilineal-centred Indigenous holistic healing, principles, and knowledge.

This project is positive, uplifting, hopeful, and of critical importance for the future. The stories being shared by those with first-hand experiences and innovative leadership who have come together in solidarity provide a path forward for meaningful and transformational change, ensuring action is taken in a good way to end sexual exploitation and sex trafficking.

About Clan Mothers
Healing Village

Through time and colonization, Indigenous practices have changed with the historical influence of Eurocentric patriarchal controls. These changes have greatly altered Indigenous matrilineal teachings about women, and have devalued lived experience leadership.

We believe that healing is only possible when we return to our Indigenous models and methodologies of healing. There is a recently renewed movement and respect for the important role and invaluable leadership of persons with lived experience, Grandmothers, and women. They are restoring teachings, values, and practices that were lost as a result of colonization and residential schools.

The success of Clan Mothers’ work over the years, particularly with persons with lived experience of sexual exploitation, has inspired us to expand our reach and capacity to bring substantive change, healing, and hope to our communities.

Our innovative Indigenous-led model focuses on the restoration of our communities based on the matrilineal values and principles of our original self-governance systems. This includes an emphasis on the importance and value of lived experience leadership.

Our guiding principles are culturally safe environments, Indigenous world-views, creating sustainable change, and Indigenous self-determination.

Through time and colonization, Indigenous practices have changed with the historical influence of Euro-centric patriarchal controls. These changes have greatly altered Indigenous views, particularly about women and girls, and have devalued lived experience leadership. We believe that healing is only possible when we return to our Indigenous models and methodologies of healing.

There is a recently renewed movement and respect for the important role and invaluable leadership of experiential voices, Grandmothers, and women. They are restoring teachings, values, and practices that were lost as a result of colonization and residential schools.

Following the success we have had in the past, we recognize the opportunity to better serve and walk alongside those with lived experiences of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, and human trafficking, using Indigenous holistic methodologies to bring substantive change, healing, and hope to our communities across Canada.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Miigwetch

We gratefully acknowledge funding received from Public Safety Canada, LUSH cosmetics, the province of Manitoba, the province of Ontario, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police National Headquarters.

Government of Canada
lush cosmetics - fresh, handmade, cosmetic
Province of Manitoba
Province of Ontario

While it was not possible to include every powerful quote or story, each word shared in circle and each contribution to this project informed its themes, messages, take-aways, and design. Indeed, each individual who participated in this initiative over the course of the past two years is part of the collective whole represented herein. As such, we acknowledge and thank all those who participated.

Special thanks go to the following: Elder Mae Louise Campbell, Elder Belinda Vandenbroeck, Elder Billie Schibler, Elder Laurie Mackenzie, Elder Charlotte Nolin, Elder Audrey DeRoy, Project Director Jamie Goulet, Brenda Flamand, Charlene Gladue, Dr. Karlee Sapoznik Evans, Jennifer Richardson, Jessica German, Kane Kirton, Kim Trossel, Michelle Harrison, Suzanne Braun, Val Monk, and Kono Films (Charles Konowal, Nik Konowal, and Tarama Roshka). 

Contributors

The regions and/or communities of the lived experience leaders who contributed to this project are profiled in the following map.

Each lived experience leader shared a sentence about why lived experience leadership is important as well as a key message, solution, or action for your consideration. 

We wish to express gratitude to Mother Earth for the resources we are using, and honour all of the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people who have been living on the land since time immemorial.

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Click on the circles to learn more from our lived experience leaders.

Sacred Process

This project is the first of its kind in Canada. At all times, it was Indigenous- and experiential-led within a decolonized framework. Informed and guided by matrilineal ancestral teachings, knowledge, and Indigenous value systems, its primary goal is to empower, honour, and respect the leadership, first-hand experiences, wisdom, and solutions of persons with lived experiences of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. It is, therefore, unique and distinct.

It is also fundamentally different as a result of its sacred process. From its initial design, to its ceremonial components, to the detailed-oriented gatherings held across Canada, to the sacred gifts provided to participants, to the format of the circles and interviews, to the video selection process, to the development of the written content, to the powerful visuals, poetry, and graphic design, each step was thoughtfully carried out and led by Elders and lived experience leaders.

What follows represents the collective voice of lived experience leaders who are boldly standing up and calling for change. In the words of Shamin Brown, “United we stand, together we rise.”1

1. Shamin Brown, I’m An Addict: In Bits And Pieces, Goldrock Press, 2014. For more information about Shamin, visit https://shaminbrownconsulting.org.

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“We need to document strong voices of wisdom and experience to not only let Canadians know, let the world know.”