Resources Toolkit for Migrant Women

Resources Toolkit for Migrant Women

Backgrounder on the FCJ Refugee Centre

Click here to download a printable version of the toolkit

FCJ Refugee Centre strives to meet the diverse needs of uprooted people in communities across Ontario and Canada. FCJ Refugee Centre attempts to address the problems of poverty and lack of resources, isolation, and discrimination through community-based programs that promote self-help, personal growth, community economic development and social justice. For over 30 years, FCJ Refugee Centre has supported hundreds of individuals and families, many in precarious situations, in regularizing their immigration status and facilitating access to services. With an open door and holistic approach, we offer a unique integrated model of providing supports and services, including housing, integration services and other supports for migrant women, men and children.

Against this backdrop, the FCJ Refugee Centre set up the Migrant Women Counter-Human Trafficking Alliance, whose mission is to support and enhance the services available to migrant women with lived experiences of human trafficking and gender-based violence, as well as those at risk of human trafficking.

Purpose of the Resources Toolkit

Migrant women in Canada face unique challenges that intersect with their gender, background and immigration status, making them particularly susceptible to gender-based violence.

Prevention plays a central role in efforts to eradicate gender-based violence. Service providers can make an important contribution to such preventative work, helping migrant women access accurate and reliable information. At the same time, access to trauma-informed response services is vital to address the unique needs of migrant women with lived experiences of human trafficking and domestic violence. Yet, migrant women often face obstacles to access both prevention and response supports on account of their (precarious) immigration status.

To help overcome these obstacles and better support migrant women, we are sharing this Resources Toolkit for Migrant Women and Service Providers Supporting Them.

Definitions, Data and Information Sharing

Human Trafficking

The United Nations’ definition of Human Trafficking (as per the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol), signed by Canada in 2002) involves “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability, or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.”

In Canada, trafficking offences under the Criminal Code generally correspond to those under the Palermo Protocol, with some differences in approaching the exploitation element of the definition.

The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) developed a National Human Trafficking Assessment Tool that screens for elements of human trafficking and a Starter Toolkit for Awareness-Raising on Trafficking in Persons to help guide service providers, individuals and communities across Canada in identifying and responding to situations of human trafficking.

The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking (CCTEHT), a national charity dedicated to ending all types of human trafficking in Canada, released their Human Trafficking Trends in Canada (2019-2022), new It’s Time to T.A.L.K. about Sex Trafficking research, and a Help End Labour Trafficking: Digital Toolkit. Aura Freedom – a grassroots organization working to end violence against women and human trafficking through education and advocacy – published a Human-Trafficking Info Hub to provide support against human trafficking for sexual exploitation in Canada.

To examine the assumptions that underlie the dominant understanding of trafficking and foster the development of a framework that is responsive to migrant women’s lived experiences, Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic issued the Migrant Women’s Rights Project Discussion Paper #1: An Iterative Learning Journey to Deconstruct “Trafficking”. Furthermore, the report It Happens Here – compiled by CCTEHT and FCJ Refugee Centre with the support of Legal Assistance of Windsor (LAW) – summarizes findings from focus group discussions with migrant workers on labour exploitation during the pandemic.

Gender-Based Violence

Gender-Based Violence (GBV) refers to violence against individuals because of their gender, gender expression, gender identity or perceived gender. GBV is a multifaceted issue that encompasses various forms of violence, including physical, sexual, emotional, and economic abuse. GBV is not limited to physical violence and can include any word, action, or attempt to degrade, control, humiliate, intimidate, coerce, deprive, threaten or harm another person.

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is one of the prevalent forms of GBV and refers to any forms of physical, sexual, psychological or emotional abuse (including controlling behaviors, financial abuse and neglect) by a current or former intimate partner. When the partners live together, it is known as Domestic Violence (DV). Family Violence (FV) is any form of abuse, mistreatment or neglect that a child or adult experiences from a family member.

Aura Freedom developed A Gender-Based Violence Resource Centre, as well as a campaign on Femicide, to work toward ending violence against women through education and advocacy. Women and Gender Equality Canada’s Fact sheet: Intimate Partner Violence provides further information on this issue, as well as the facts and the laws.

The Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)’s  Initiative to End Gender-Based Violence provides resources, education and leadership to the immigrant and refugee serving sector and the broader community on gender-based violence prevention and survivor support.

To support service providers working with women with precarious immigration status, Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic also published the report Race, Gendered Violence, and the Rights of Women with Precarious Immigration Status, as well as Gathering Evidence for Humanitarian and Compassionate (H&C) Applications: A toolkit for Advocates Supporting Women Survivors of Gender-Based Violence.


Click on the button or the image to download a printable version of the toolkit:

With the support of: