In 2013 several threads from different individuals and organizations began to be woven together in a mutual desire to address the lack of resources for victims of human trafficking in a direct and tangible way. It developed into a shared vision of creating an initiative to provide needed housing and support for people who are trafficked in Canada.
Aurora House was originally a mission project born out of the Toronto United Mennonite Church (TUMC) in response to the lack of support services for victims of human trafficking in Toronto.
TUMC is a Christian community in the Mennonite-Anabaptist "peace church" tradition with a heart for the displaced and vulnerable. In the 1970's TUMC began a ministry of working with refugees that continues to this day. Over the past 35 years, TUMC has sponsored and aided over 100 refugee families (more than 160 individuals).
TUMC has members of its congregation who are active in the counter-trafficking movement on a local and international level. In 2013 TUMC hosted a day of awareness around Human Trafficking. Shortly afterwards, they began exploring possible ways to become engaged in a more direct way.
The perceived need for housing and support services was confirmed in June of 2014 when the Alliance Against Modern Slavery published research information confirming the urgent need for housing, counseling, funding and other vital support for people who have been trafficked in Ontario.
When the Mennonite New Life Centre of Toronto (MNLCT), potential partners since the original conception, confirmed their commitment to the program, TUMC made the decision to support the start-up of a long-term transitional housing project.
MNLCT is a community- based settlement agency with extensive experience helping newcomers to Canada. It was identified that MNLCT has broad experience counseling newcomers and refugees suffering from trauma and would be ideally suited to manage all the case management and programming for the residents of the housing project. MNLCT’s experience and interest in the project combined with the urging of the founding members of the Toronto Counter Human Trafficking Network (TCHTN), means they are ideally suited to helping immigrants and newcomers to Canada. Immigrant residents will be able to benefit from the extensive settlement services that MNLCT has to offer.
Aurora House was incorporated as a not-for-profit in October 2014. Aurora House is governed by a six-member board of directors who are committed to a model of governance that includes a thorough evaluation process and works within an anti-oppression framework. Aurora House hopes to receive official charity status soon.
Aurora House opened in May 2016.