Sexual exploitation was at the heart of the testimony Thursday at the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Winnipeg.
Commissioners heard from two survivors of human trafficking.
“I can remember sometimes having no choice to be out there because I didn’t have nowhere to live,” said Willan.
This is the second time this week Willan has shared her story.
She previously testified with her husband as survivors of the child welfare system.
She said abuse there began at a young age.
“Through the foster care, through the different systems – it started around the age of 10,” she said. “It really started around 10, 11, 12. At that time we never really heard of exploitation or human trafficking those big fancy words weren’t known to us.”
Willan said the abuse continued for more than a decade.
Not knowing how to cope, Willian said she found herself down a dark path of violence, addictions, and incarceration.
She told the inquiry about her time on the streets.
“In my head walking down the back lane I would literally carry a weapon right in the open and just walk,” she said. “And if anyone came at me they were going to get it and it wasn’t nice but I was in such a dark place I would walk down the dark streets.”
It would take another decade for her to walk down a new path of sobriety – one she credits the support of family and friends.
Thursday was Alaya McIvor’s second time at the inquiry.
She spoke of her own experience being trafficked – starting at the age of 12.
“He got into his car and had picked me up and I serviced this perpetrator for a number amount of hours only to not understand again what sex was,” she said.
“I didn’t even know what a condom was.”
McIvor was shipped from province to province before she made it back home years later.
She eventually escaped from that world with the help of her community.
McIvor and Willans were the only two survivors that shared their experience in Manitoba.
McIvor said it’s important for survivors to share their stories because they may hold key information for other cases.
“A lot of victims that move into those roles of survivors into warriors have that potential information that families are seeking and looking for,” she said.
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