On Wednesday, October 18, 2017, SVDN Health and SV High School were fortunate enough to have a presentation for our SVHS students about topics that few are willing to speak about, but are relevant for all our youth; Human Trafficking, Drug Addiction and Violence Against Women. Presenters Rachel Willan, Mathew Willlan and Alaya McIvor took to the podium and each spoke about their respective fields to our receptive teens who all took heed to their cautionary tales.
Rachel Willan is a 42 year old Indigenous happily married women, mother of 7 beautiful children and has been a survivor of the child welfare system since the age of 2. Rachel became a ward of CFS at age 4, was raised in 53 placements, including lockups, and is a survivor of sexual exploitation and human trafficking. Rachel moved her victimization into positivizes with her role as a survivor champion. 12 years ago Rachel cleaned up her life and started breakdown the barriers and removing the stigma attached to sexual exploitation and human trafficking. Rachel now considers herself as a warrior women whom shares her story of resiliency and has graduated the First Nations Child & Family Service Worker program with Yellow Quill Collage and works tirelessly in the front lines helping marginalized folk navigate the systems of oppression and helps people identify their gifts and strengths.
Matthew Willan is a 38 year old indigenous father of 4 whom at one point in his life was gang affiliated at an early age and was in the care of the state of Canada’s child welfare system. Matthew is a survivor of child sexual abuse and has turned his life around. Matthew shares his resiliency of overcoming these challenges in his life and is now helping vulnerable youth he works with as an action therapist & community support mentor.
Alaya McIvor is a 34 year old Trans Indigenous Women from Treaty One Territory in Manitoba. She originates from the Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation, a Northern community 190 Kilometers Northwest on Lake Manitoba shore lines. She currently resides in Winnipeg. Alaya is a strong Indigenous woman in her determination and lived experience to advocate for Indigenous women, children and exploited persons. She is survivor of the Canadian child welfare system where she became vulnerable and victim to being sexually exploited and human trafficked throughout Canada. Alaya’s strong will supported her survival. She now uses her story and voice to educate and inform people on these realities, risks and how to make changes. She uses her voice, strength and resiliency to create change. Alaya is a strong champion and strives on building up survivors and empowering others. She works with many community organizations supporting their initiatives and has been instrumental in developing many new initiatives surrounding the exploitation of vulnerable peoples. Some initiatives Alaya has been involved with include Tracia’s Trust: Manitoba’s Sexual Exploitation Strategy in partnership with the Province of Manitoba, Buying Sex is not a Sport, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Our Circle to Protect Sacred Lives on Human Trafficking & Sexual Exploitation, and other community organizations which work with survivors and vulnerable peoples. In addition to speaking on ending violence against women, Alaya uses her knowledge and lived experience to promote system change. She currently sits on various boards including, The Indigenous Advisory Council on Policing Crime Prevention for the Winnipeg Police Board, CAAN Trans National Project, The 595 Prevention Team. She is currently employed within the community. Alaya continue to develop survivor peer lead programming for marginalized youth and adults in her goal to champion change. Alaya is a strong survivor advocate and activist in the areas of sexual exploitation, human trafficking and issues surrounding MMIWG. Her passion in speaking on the realities of vulnerabilities and promoting systemic and individual change allows her to be acknowledged as a leader among her peers, and was recently identified as 1 of 150 leaders with Status of Women Canada.
We are hoping to bring these speakers to SVDN to do a presentation to our adults to assist our community in identifying and preventing issues such as these in the future.