About this Project
In 2004, a group of sex workers came together in partnership withSimon Fraser University in the hope of discovering the history of sexwork—our history—in the city of Vancouver. How have sex workerscontributed to Vancouver’s founding, growth, and character? Inrecent years, the sex workers’ civil rights movement has become aninternational effort, and sex workers all over the world are demandinghuman rights and labour standards. As in all civil rights movements,we need to understand our history in order to understand our place inthe community.The foundation for positive change is to have pride in ourselves andthe accomplishments of the sex workers before us. We wanted tounderstand the factors which came to bear on the quality of life forsex workers throughout the life of our city. So, we investigated thehistory of the city itself, its economic history, the history of poverty,of medicine, of laws and enforcement, of the women’s movement (inparticular, women’s suffrage), of the sex workers’ rights movement, of arts and fashion, and the history of “organized crime”—all of whichhave shaped what we call “our community.” Looking at these variousfactors, we began to see our place in the larger community, the make-up of our traditional neighbourhoods, and how the situation of today has become as dangerous as it is. Throughout the history of our city,sex workers have been affected by many of the same things as othercommunity members. Major world events touch us all, as do localissues speciﬁc to Vancouver and the popular opinion of Vancouverites.One thing is clear: sex workers have always been and remain to this day an integral part of our city and have contributed greatly to its colour,diversity, and personality!This project was a journey for us, and we’d like to thank everyonewho helped along the way and who have taken the time to considerour ﬁndings.