SUDBURY -- Over the next four years, the Sudbury Women’s Centre will receive $399,088 from the Department of Women and Gender Equality.

The funding will go to preventing human trafficking, as well as enhancing support for survivors.

The Sudbury Women’s Centre is one of 63 organizations across Canada to receive the funding. It will also allow agencies to support individuals who have been victims of human trafficking.

“We received funding to create a 10-week support group program,” said Kaylyn Edens, with the Sudbury Women’s Centre. "So, over the course of 10 weeks, it will be a closed support group so individuals are able to participate from start to finish. They are consecutive and that way no one misses out on any of the building blocks from previous weeks.

“The goal of this support group is to create a safe space for women and individuals who are victim survivors of human trafficking.”

Northern Ontario a trafficking hub

Officials with the centre said northern Ontario is a hub for human trafficking. That’s why it’s important to not only offer support, but also to create alliances with other groups across the north to help survivors in various ways.

“We’re going to be in Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay, Timmins, Sudbury, of course, and North Bay,” said Giulia Carpenter, executive director at the Women’s Centre.

"The variety of organizations that are in those communities will be coming and we will be getting together virtually and face-to-face. There will be some travel time once COVID restrictions are lifted."

“We will be able to go through some of our programs that we are going with our clients so that they can offer it to their clients as well in their community,” she added.

Staff said after the 10-week program is complete, they hope survivors will have a sense of empowerment and support.

“Anything that was once stripped from them or taken from them, that kind of exploitation that they’ve experienced, is something that no individual should ever go through. We want to be able to give them back the power that was taken from them,” said Edens.

The centre is planning to begin the program in the fall.