Vancouver, B.C., Sex Workers Honored With Memorial

Vancouver, B.C., Sex Workers Honored With Memorial

VANCOUVER, B.C. — On Friday, a crowd of about 100 gathered outside Vancouver’s St. Paul’s Anglican Church to unveil a lamppost with a red bulb in tribute to sex workers who plied their trade up until the early 1980s when they were chased out by authorities after a new statute took effect.

At the West End intersection of Jervis and Pendrell, the lamppost stands where prostitutes and hustlers once flourished and then were pushed out after the law allowed police to crack down on them. That law was later deemed unconstitutional.

Leaders of the city of Vancouver at Friday’s unveiling said the anti-hooker law displaced sex workers, creating additional conditions of vulnerability, stigma and harm as well as moved sex work to other neighborhoods.

In 2008, the West End Sex Workers Memorial Committee was co-founded by Indigenous trans sex work activist Jamie Lee Hamilton and University of British Columbia professor Becki Ross with a mandate to commemorate a community of sex workers, with diverse cultural and gender identities, who were expelled from the Vancouver's West End.

For the past two years, they have worked in close partnership with the city of Vancouver and St. Paul's Anglican Church, to establish a memorial.

Vancouver provided funding of $28,000 for the memorial, which equals the total dollar amount in fines that was imposed on sex workers as a result of the city's street activities law.