IHSP celebrates one year of Sex Worker Circle
June 6, 2023 marks the one-year anniversary of WISH’s Sex Worker Circle (SWC), held as part of our Indigenous Health & Safety Program. The Circle is a safe, dedicated space for participants who are current and active street-based sex workers.
The methodical and purposeful approach to creating SWC took months to develop and implement. It is extremely important to ensure the program is low-barrier and Indigenous peer-led. From day one, the priority has been to create a safe and growth-facilitating environment that includes two significant pieces, a sex worker engagement activity and a Talking Circle.
The sex worker engagement activity changes every week but always invites participants to use their creativity. This can include fabric arts like bedazzling, dying and sewing working clothes; make-up sessions and tutorials with free cosmetics; creating sex worker safety kits; or enjoying guest speakers and peer training.
The second aspect of Sex Worker Circle involves a Talking Circle, which allows for the space needed to provide skill development such as public speaking and de-escalation training and holding trauma-informed conversations. The topics of each Talking Circle focus on sex work and safety; some of the most recent topics included:
- How can we stay safe in a date’s vehicle?
- How can compassion look like safety for sex workers?
- How to use the Buddy-System in today’s sex work.
Before the start of each SWC, peers get together to assign tasks. All sessions then begin with smudging and end with a gratitude circle.
Building collective power for sex workers is a key priority at WISH. Since launching a year ago, SWC has seen over 400 visits, speaking to the community’s need for this type of opportunity and safe space. During that time, 12 peers have also been trained, while others are currently completing training.
Visit the IHSP page on our website to learn more about the SWC. You can also find more information about opportunities for participants at WISH each month in our Drop-In Calendar, posted on the Drop-In Centre Program page.