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Full session and speaker breakdown in body text below.
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ALL TIMES ARE IN CDT (Central Daylight Time!)
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
10:00am – 11:00am
See you in court! Sex workers challenging PCEPA
Hear from The Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform regarding the legal challenge that has been launched by the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform regarding elements of PCEPA’s violation of Charter rights in Canada.
Sandra Ka Hon Chu
11:00am – 11:45am
Rights from The Rock: Sex Workers Struggles and Successes from Newfoundland
Discussing the things you maybe didn’t know about sex workers in the east coast. There’s been minimal attention given to sex work in the east: a bit of academic writing and research, a book called “Rock Paper Sex”, but what do you know about sex worker organizing in rural and remote areas in the east coast, and the different challenges and solutions sex workers face in NL?
Safe Harbour Outreach Project
12:00pm – 12:40pm
Root Causes, Resources, And Our Survival: What American Drug-Using Sex Workers And Trafficking Survivors Actually Need
Members of the Urban Survivors Union sex worker organizing group, the sex worker organizing group of the U.S. national drug users union, will discuss how they’ve organized against harmful intersections in the wars on drugs and trafficking in two legislative campaigns. The danger that the net of criminalization will be widened to interpret all substance use connected to sex work as coercion and therefore trafficking is very real. The impact this would have on drug-using sex workers using together to protect each other—during an overdose crisis in which one of the largest risk factors is using alone–would be dire. As a group of drug-using sex workers and trafficking survivors as well as sex workers in harm reduction organizing with drug-using sex workers, we’ve surveyed our members on what drug-using trafficking survivors and drug-using sex workers actually need, and will be sharing that information with you.
Zee St. James
LUNCH! 12:40pm – 1:10pm
1:10pm – 1:50pm
Reflections on sex work and harm reduction discourse
In 2020, Stella and Butterfly published a document to contribute to sex worker organizations’ reflections about, and their capacity to evaluate and use, the language of harm reduction as it relates to sex work, particularly when interfacing with policy makers, funders, media, researchers and other actors. Currently, harm reduction language is used more and more frequently by people outside of criminalized and affected communities (e.g. politicians, lawyers/judges, academics, service providers, prohibitionists, etc.). As a result, narrow and problematic representations of harm reduction are getting more air time and visibility. Using the word “harm” in discussions around sex work may suggest that sex work itself is harmful. As a result, people who seek to eradicate sex work and sex workers may try to co-opt the language of harm reduction. This presentation will outline the fundamental principles of harm reduction identified by Stella and Butterfly, as well as how those basic features can be erased, distorted or overshadowed, and how to identify whether programs and policies apply them well.
2:00pm – 3:00pm
Exploring anti-trafficking responses in Ontario: Evidence of carceral protectionism in social service provision
Anti-trafficking policies and programming have received considerable attention and funding in Canada in the last decade. In Ontario, the first Strategy to End Human Trafficking was introduced in 2016 by the Liberal government, with a dedicated $72 million. In 2020, the Conservative government released its own Strategy, dedicating $307 million over five years. This presentation explores interviews with 22 service providers funded by the Province of Ontario to develop anti-trafficking programming. Interviews reveal the reliance on law enforcement and carceral systems of protection to both inform and address human trafficking. In most cases, funded organizations centralize the sex industry, including women and young people who trade sex and third parties, in their responses to trafficking. The anti-trafficking solutions being applied to experiences of exploitation, abuse, and labour are largely nestled in a neoliberal yet paternalistic framework that intersects with moral order and white supremacist ideologies. They locate trafficking in individuals while the structural and systemic drivers of exploitation and abuse remain unchallenged. The presentation then offers counter narratives to the anti-trafficking discourse being propelled in the province and Canada more widely, both based on interviews and other organizations and campaigns seeking justice and liberation for sex workers and other workers.
Ann De Shalit
3:00pm – 4:00pm
By Us, For Us: Examining Research from Metro Vancouver & Envisioning Sex Worker Involvement in Occupational Health Research
What does current evidence on Canada’s end-demand model tell us? Presented through a decriminalization and occupational health and safety lens, experiential sex work researchers discuss recent (post-Bedford Decision) research findings from Metro Vancouver, BC. Findings include those on im/migrant sex workers, third party assistance, and emerging/new directions in sex workers’ occupational health and safety. Facilitated discussion or panel discussion after sharing of findings. Led by Sylvia Machat, researcher specializing in sex work occupational health and safety.
4:00pm – 5:00pm
When Alloura Wells went missing in the Toronto area in 2017, sex worker community came together to seek answers. This is their story.
Ellie Ade Kur
Thursday, May 6th, 2021
10:00am – 10:40am
How police cause harm and solutions to this & Decriminalization of sex work: views from South Africa
Criminalization of sex Work in South Africa have highlighted, itself that it does not speak for sex workers on the ground especial on this time of COVID-19 epidemic. Asijiki members have come out louder to call out government to decriminalization sex work in SA. During the Covid-19 pandemic Sex workers are battling to survive due of the restrictions imposed under the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown.
10:40am – 11:20am
Radical recordkeeping to counter violent narratives: Report from the first three years of the Sex Work Activist Histories Project
One of the ongoing crises in sex work activism is the loss of records from those activists who came before us. Histories of these radical activisms have, until very recently, been just as marginalized as sex workers themselves. Other challenges to such recordkeeping and knowledge sharing include the fact that the extreme violence that sex work activists oppose is also visited upon them, taking knowledge holders from us; and the reality of activist burnout causing veteran activists to leave, cutting ties to keep whore stigma from following them into the rest of their lives. Currently Canada-based, the Sex Work Activist Histories Project is an interdisciplinary research initiative to record and share the radical knowledges, expertise, and histories of sex work activists. This paper introduces SWAHP, discusses key records and findings from its first three years, and concludes (we hope) by discussing with our conference audience what forms future sex worker activist histories might take.
11:20am – 12:00pm
History of Sex Work in Winnipeg
It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like.
12:00pm – 12:30pm LUNCH!!
12:30pm – 1:10pm
Local Politics as the Path Forward Criminalization and fear of enforcement remain the top priorities for sex workers to increase their safety in Canada.
In Vancouver and British Columbia a lowest level of enforcement public policy has begun to unravel these issues. Sex workers have worked with police for almost 2 decades to build understanding of the harms caused by enforcement in particular how it undermines sex workers trust in police and prevents sex workers reporting crimes when they experience them.
There have been successes and challenges. It is far from perfect. But in a City where 49 women were killed by one animal during the height of criminalization here, we have now been free from murder of sex workers as a result of their jobs for 12 years in Vancouver.
The process of trust building continues to evolve as does issues facing the sex worker community here and across Canada. It’s time for police to protect the safety of sex workers and to cast of the old morality based approaches which have caused so much harm.
The early successes and challenges seen in Vancouver can serve as a model for all.
John School in Winnipeg: Framework for a Critical Inquiry
This project, conducted by the Sex Workers of Winnipeg Action Coalition and academics from University of Manitoba and University of Winnipeg, investigates a Winnipeg “diversion program” called the Prostitution Offender Program (POP). Jointly run by Winnipeg Police Services and the Salvation Army, POP is a day-long educational program offered as an alternative to criminal charges to individuals who have attempted to purchase sexual services from an undercover officer. The POP is becoming de-facto policy for addressing the purchasing of sexual services in Manitoba, spreading out from Winnipeg to other parts of the province. This despite considerable evidence that targeting of clients doesn’t eliminate sex work or protect sex workers (Gibbs & van Brunschot 2003; Kennedy et al. 2004; Sanders 2008; Shively et al. 2008; Lovell & Jordan 2012; Gurd & O’Brien 2013; Majic 2013). The critical inquiry we introduce will investigate the educational and administrative frameworks of POP, considering the program’s effectiveness at changing behaviours, preventing human trafficking, and deterring the purchase of sexual services.
What Are John Schools?
Members of WPCH’s subcommittee on the prison-industrial complex and sexual and gender-based violence (PIC-SGBV) debut their collaborative video project with SWWAC: “What are John Schools?”
2:10pm – 2:50pm
BC Bad Date and Aggressor Reporting Project
Sex workers experience higher rates of violence than the general population, and vulnerability is often higher for Indigenous, homeless, im/migrant, and trans sex workers. Due to stigma and criminalization, most of this violence is not reported to authorities—forcing sex workers to take safety into their own hands. Recently, five organizations in BC have come together to launch the BC Bad Date and Aggressor Reporting project (BCBDAR), which will be the first of its kind in Canada and one of few geographically-linked systems worldwide. We have three years of funding to design and create, with extensive sex worker input, this inclusive province-wide tool.
This session will cover how the BDBDAR project got started, what it hopes to achieve, and how sex workers from outside of BC can apply the lessons we’re learning about securing funding, working in collaboration, and engaging diverse stakeholders to build support for bad date reporting.
2:50pm – 3:50pm
Porno Presumptions: unquestioned beliefs about sex that infuse porn debates
From claims that porn is the new drug, to censorhip, SESTA/FOSTA, and impending policy in Canada, Kate and Valerie break down the power structures at play in the production, distribution, and consumption of porn. We’ll cover prohibitionist standpoints and the harms they directly cause, the hierarchy and whorephobia of “good vs bad” porn aesthetics and actions, and a little of everything in between.
Friday, May 7th, 2021 – ART DAY!
9:30am – 10:00am
Harm Reduction Kit-Making Group Photo Documentation
The harm reduction kit making group at All Saints began as an opportunity to bring womentogether once a week to make needle and stem-pipe kits for outreach. Coordinated by JanetLyons, the kit-making offers an opportunity to build relationships and create a supply of kits forstreet outreach walks. The work supports women-identified sex workers and is coordinated withAll Saints’ Sex Worker Fridays community breakfasts that offer access to health care, bad-datereporting, and other opportunities for harm reduction and community building. Unfortunately,the community breakfasts have been temporarily suspended during the pandemic, but the harmreduction work carries on.
10:00am – 10:30am
Learn more about Our Place Safe Space’s amazing zine project!
10:30am – 12:00pm
Art as Resistance: Reclaiming sex work narratives through zine making
Telling our stories is not only a form of self-care, but also an act resistance. In this hands-on creative workshop, we will rewrite oppressive narratives told about sex workers and reclaim our authentic stories. We will make art together, share, play, and celebrate creativity! No art experience or special materials required (really!). Each of us will end up with our own zine page, which you can keep for yourself, or choose to contribute to a collective zine that we can distribute in our communities.
Please feel free to bring supplies and make your own zine:
– blank paper
– something to write with
– whatever drawing/art supplies you have on hand (pens, highlighters, crayons, markers, collage supplies, stickers, paint, anything!)
12:00pm – 12:30pm
“Prostitutes Are People Too”: Reclaiming Our Humanity
Urban Fantasy Author C E Hoffman discusses transcending whorephobia, and reads an excerpt from their debut #OwnVoices collection, SLUTS AND WHORES.
C E Hoffman
12:30pm – 1:00pm LUNCH!!
1:00pm – 1:40pm
Living in Sin Gets You The Riches / La vie du vices rende riches: Maimie l’amie de Stella is an animated film based on The Maimie Papers, a collection of personal letters from sex worker and charity hustler extraordinaire Maimie Pinzer, who lived in Montreal in 1915 and creatively used her sex worker wits to navigate the hostile backdrop of prohibition, religious morals, stigma, discrimination, and criminalization – much like today’s context.
In solidarity and continuity with past sex worker-led actions, the style of this film pays homage to the stop-motion animated film Prowling by Night, created by Gwendolyn in 1990. Our film was made by sex workers, puppeteers, actors, activists, and historians from our community. It aims to highlight the humour, creativity, strength and resilience of sex workers and to provide a small window into how we have been creating community across generations.
The film is 6 minutes long and is available in French and English, with subtitles.
1:40pm – 2:30pm Break!
2:30pm – 3:30pm
Project ArmHer is a multi-year, multi-media, multidisciplinary project with Myths and Mirrors Community Arts and SWANS (Sex Workers Advisory Network Sudbury), a collective of women with lived experience in sex work and their allies.
The project aims to create a safe space in which women can creatively share their experiences and raise awareness on issues of stigmatization, violence, and lack of protection for people working in the sex work industry. The visual and theatrical work is based on the experiences of women working in the sex industry and created and performed by them and their allies.
Funding for this work was provided by It’s Never Okay: Ontario’s Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment and Shakagamik-Kwe Health Centre.
Sarah King Gold
6:30pm – 7:00pm
Social Time with Jordyn!
It’s been a great week full of amazing ideas and work, and this is our time to be ourselves. Host Jordyn wants to create a space where you can relax, partake in whatever substances relax you, and share a story or your art or just tell folks how you’re feeling. This is a flexible and respectful space that will exist in the way that it needs to support the people who come. Respect policy is in full effect, and this event is not recorded.
7:30pm – 8:30pm
Nuit Raunch Online!
Usually a sweaty warehouse in Winnipeg’s exchange district turns into a public porn screening every September for Nuit Raunch. Stupid COVID fucked that up for 2020, but we’ve still got our playlist! Come join us for a streaming porn experience! We’ll watch! We’ll discuss! We’ll keep our cameras off!