Tag Archives: METRAC

Sex work/workers in Canada after Bedford: watch our Nov.24 event

Along with METRAC/OWJN, the IFLS held a panel discussion on November 24 in order to ask “how we might map out the way that this case shifts the debate and the context of the debate around sex work in Canada”.

The whole session was taped – so if you couldn’t make it, here it is, in streamed video.  If you want to hear from only one of our speakers, you can hear their presentation by scrolling below and clicking on their photo.

Thanks to the generous and talented Manori Ravindran (Journalism/Ryerson) for the photos.  The introduction to the session is here.

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“Public policy has to  do a lot more than just express simple moral preferences.” – Alan Young

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“There has to be a voice given to those most vulnerable.” -Christa Big Canoe

Click for video

“…often times the laws and regulations which can make it much more precarious and sort of de facto push people into working [outdoors]….”

-Emily van der Meulen

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Questions from the audience.

More information about the presenters:

Christa Big Canoe, B.A., J.D. is a First Nation Anishinabe Kwe feminist lawyer from Georgina Island First Nation in southern Ontario. She received her B.A. from the University of Calgary and graduated from the University of Toronto Law School in 2005. Christa is a recipient of the Dr. Ralph Steinhauer Award presented by the First Nations Student Association and The Native Centre of the University of Calgary, and the Alberta Aboriginal Women’s Esquao Award. She articled and worked with Nahwegahbow, Corbiere, an all First Nations law firm prior to becoming Policy Counsel for Legal Aid Ontario. Christa is passionate about parenthood, First Nations and women’s rights. She is a feminist lawyer with goals of promoting access to justice for Aboriginal women and people.

Emily van der Meulen
is a community-based researcher and Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Center for
Research on Inner City Health at St. Michael’s Hospital.  She holds a supplementary Post-Doctoral Fellowship
with the Comparative Program on Health and Society, Munk School of Global Affairs and is a 2010-2011 Visiting Fellow in the Lillian S. Robinson Scholars Program at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute. She completed her doctoral studies at York University where she conducted an action research project that examined the relationship between Canadian policy and sex workers’ ability to organize for improved labour, health, and human rights under criminalization. She has been involved with Maggie’s: The Toronto Sex Workers Action Project for over four years.
Alan Young is Co-Founder and Director of Osgoode’s Innocence Project, which involves LLB students in the investigation of suspected cases of wrongful conviction and imprisonment. Between 1998 and 2000 he played an integral part in compelling the federal government to take action to recognize the medicinal value of marijuana. He has represented countless numbers of people suffering from AIDS, cancer and multiple sclerosis who had been charged as a result of using marijuana for medicinal purposes. In addition to his work in the area of consensual crime, Professor Young has also provided free legal services to victims of violent crime and to individuals attempting to sue the government for malicious prosecution. He is the author of Justice Defiled: Perverts, Potheads, Serial Killers and Lawyers (Toronto: Key Porter, 2003).

After Bedford : Off the Streets? November 24 at Osgoode

Come and join us for this.  I know, law students – it’s late in the semester. But still, it is going to be really interesting. .

What might the Canada v. Bedford decision mean for the future of sex work and sex workers in Canada?  This panel will explore the litigation, the decision, and the “what next” questions around regulation and vulnerability.


Christa Big Canoe, B.A., J.D. First Nations and feminist Lawyer

Valerie Scott Sex worker, Litigant in Bedford v. Canada and Director of Sex Professionals of Canada

Dr. Emily van der Meulen Community-based researcher and Post-doctoral Fellow at the Centre for Research on Inner City Health

Prof. Alan Young Associate Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School and Lawyer for Terri Jean Bedford in Bedford v. Canada

24 November · 12:30 – 14:30

Osgoode Hall Moot Court (Rm 101), York University, Keele Campus

Light refreshments will be provided.  This event is wheelchair accessible.

Moderated by Professor Sonia Lawrence Director, Institute for Feminist Legal Studies at Osgoode Hall Law School

From Bedford v. Canada:

“Prostitution is not illegal in Canada. However, Parliament has seen fit to criminalize most aspects of prostitution. The conclusion I have reached is that three provisions of the Criminal Code that seek to address facets of prostitution (living on the avails of prostitution, keeping a common bawdy-house and communicating in a public place for the purpose of engaging in prostitution) are not in accord with the principles of fundamental justice and must be struck down. These laws, individually and together, force prostitutes to choose between their liberty interest and their right to security of the person as protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I have found that these laws infringe the core values protected by section 7 and that this infringement is not saved by section 1 as a reasonable limit demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”

Organized by:

Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women (METRAC) Community Justice Program, www.metrac.org
Ontario Women’s Justice Network, www.owjn.org
Institute for Feminist Legal Studies at Osgoode Hall Law School, http://ifls.osgoode.yorku.ca/

Is Yorku Safe?

This long awaited report (the process was started in 2007) has finally been released and is available here in pdf.

In President Shoukri’s covering letter (click here), he writes:

….one of the most prominent themes from the METRAC safety audit is the need to develop a more pronounced culture of safety and security for all community members. …The report also highlights opportunities for the enhancement to our services, programs, policies, and infrastructure. For those reasons, I have appointed Gary Brewer, Vice-President Finance and Administration, to lead a pan-University committee to review the report and develop a comprehensive action plan which will be developed over the summer. In early September, I will provide an update to the York Community….