Colonial Exploitation: The Canadian State and the Trafficking of Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada


This Article argues that because of its historical and ongoing investments in settler colonialism, the Canadian state has long been complicit and continues to be complicit in the human trafficking of indigenous women and girls in Canada. In addition to providing indigenous bodies for labour and sexual exploitation, Canada’s trafficking of indigenous people has been essential not only to securing the indigenous lands required for the nation’s existence, but also in facilitating the speedy colonial elimination of indigenous people—whether through assimilation, forced emancipation, or death. Human trafficking, as such, has been essential to securing domination of indigenous peoples and territories throughout Canadian colonial history. This Article pays particular attention to the Canadian state’s uses of law to enable the trafficking of indigenous women and girls (and indigenous peoples, generally).

About the Author

Robyn Bourgeois is an indigenous (Cree) activist, academic, and author. She earned her Ph.D in Social Justice Education from the University of Toronto, where her doctoral research examined indigenous women’s involvement in state-sponsored anti-violence responses in Canada since the 1980s. For more than a decade, she has also been involved in political activism to end violence against indigenous women and girls across Canada. She currently teaches in the International Centre for Women’s Leadership at the Coady International Institute at St. Francis Xavier University in unceded Mi’kmaq territory in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

By uclalaw