As a survivor of sex trafficking in Canada, Casandra is a provincially and nationally recognized anti-trafficking leader in Canada, serving as a trusted advisor to all levels of government.
In 2014, Casandra founded BridgeNorth Women’s Mentorship & Advocacy Services, a registered charitable organization based in York Region, Ontario, dedicated to ending sex trafficking in Canada through direct service, public education, and advocacy.
Casandra uses a grassroots, multi-faceted, strength-based, trauma-informed care approach, applying lived experience and direct knowledge to provide holistic care to exploited and trafficked persons through prevention strategies, exit strategies, and safety planning.
Casandra’s 2020 TEDx Talk “I was sex trafficked for years. Brothels are hidden in plain sight.” garnered more than 2 million views in less than one year.
Casandra supported Bill C-36, which is now federal law as the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA). In partnership with the York Region District School Board, Casandra co-developed the YRDSB Anti-Human Trafficking Protocol, creating the impetus for Motion 122. The motion was subsequently adopted by the Province of Ontario, mandating a province-wide, collaborative approach for school boards, community police services, and community partners to develop and adopt an Anti-Human Trafficking Protocol to prevent and identify human trafficking and facilitate early and appropriate intervention.
Casandra currently serves as Co-Vice Chair of the Education Committee responsible for crafting the provincial mandate. She is a specialized anti-human trafficking trainer with the Province of Ontario. She also serves as a member of the province’s Lived Experience Roundtable. Casandra actively advises local municipalities on anti-human trafficking legislation and licensing.
Casandra is the recipient of many awards and honours, including the Voice of Courage Award (Boost Child & Youth Advocacy Centre, 2019); Leading Women Building Communities Award (Ministry of the Status of Women, 2018); Attorney General’s Victim Services Award of Distinction (Ministry of Attorney General, 2017); and the Inspiration Award (Joy Smith Foundation, 2014).
Casandra’s strength comes from her personal faith. Her lived experience of sex trafficking in Canada inspired her to start BridgeNorth and to come alongside others in their journey.
In her spare time, you can find Casandra watching puppy videos (or, even better, puppy and baby videos), reading or writing poetry, and enjoying her favourite spot in nature – the beach.