Like Williams, Bourgeois also sees family as the only way out of prostitution right now. “It was family who had resources who were able to help me,” Bourgeois says. “Either you have somebody in your family who really loves and cares about you, or you go out in a pine box and that’s it,” Williams echoes.

Like Williams, Bourgeois also sees family as the only way out of prostitution right now. “It was family who had resources who were able to help me,” Bourgeois says. “Either you have somebody in your family who really loves and cares about you, or you go out in a pine box and that’s it,” Williams echoes.
The personal has become political for First Nations women such as Gates, Williams and Bourgeois. They strongly oppose the current cases launched in Ontario and B.C. to legalize brothels, pimping, street transactions of prostitution and to make sex work a constitutional right. These cases are better known as the Bedford case and the Sex Workers United Against Violence v. Canada case.
Gates does not agree with the legalization of the whole sex industry, but also thinks that prostitutes should not be criminalized. “Men go to john school and women go to jail. I think they should fix it so the women are safer. Legalizing only puts little kids out on the street and makes it okay. We don’t come into prostitution by accident. We’re made this way. It’s some form of pain that you put there in the first place, usually sex crimes when you’re little. I don’t think it’s okay,” she says.
Gates, who still lives in the Downtown Eastside, says that Canada should create more harm-reduction services such as those implemented in the neighbourhood. She says that as an “active prostitute,” she does not see the eradication of prostitution as realistic.
Bourgeois, Williams and advocates of the Aboriginal Women’s Action Network (AWAN) do. They prefer the “Nordic model” over legalization — where prostitutes are decriminalized and pimps and johns are criminalized. The model, implemented in Sweden, Iceland and Norway, is a three-prong approach to slowly ending the demand to prostitution.
“This model includes law reform that criminalizes the male demand for paid sex and decriminalizes prostituted women, offers comprehensive social programs to all women and girls, and educates the public about prostitution as a form of male violence against women and girls. We, Indigenous women, believe this model encourages true social change that works in our interest,” AWAN states in a 2011 Women’s Worlds Conference declaration.
‘Not asking the hard questions’
Samantha Grey, a member of AWAN, vehemently disagrees with the way the Bedford case would potentially change prostitution laws in Canada. “The women who are doing the Bedford case do not represent the majority of women in prostitution, they represent that very small minority of women who claim that that is their choice. And the sad part is that they’re always the ones more vocal because they have the freedom.”
Empowered in Calcutta: Story of a Sex Workers’ Co-op.
Another national aboriginal women’s group, the Native Women’s Association of Canada, intervened in the Bedford case and agree with the Nordic model. Their position is based on the 582 cases they documented of missing and murdered aboriginal women throughout Canada as of 2010.
Grey says that there also needs to be more exiting services for women to leave the prostitution. “We don’t want safer, we want safe. We don’t want a band-aid solution, Grey says.
Grey echoes other First Nations women advocates in declaring that the discussion around poverty, addiction and prostitution is too limited, even at the very top levels of policy and legal decision-making. “They’re not asking the hard questions,” says Grey. “They’re not asking the questions that need to be answered in order to make prostitution non-existent.”
Prostitute charged in scissors stabbing.
A Kamloops prostitute accused of randomly attacking a man Monday and stabbing him three times with a pair of scissors has been denied bail in Kamloops provincial court.
Sandra Lee Ritchot, 40, appeared in court Tuesday, facing a string of charges including robbery, aggravated assault, assault with a weapon and uttering threats relating to the attack, in addition to probation violations stemming from a prostitution conviction last summer.
Crown prosecutor Chris Balison said the Monday attack began just before 11 a.m. as a man parked the vehicle he was driving outside the Northills Shopping Centre medical clinic.
“Once he parked his van, he observed Ms. Ritchot running towards the vehicle,” he said.
The woman is alleged to have jumped into the passenger side of the van, demanding to know the driver’s name.
“He indicated to police he was scared and just replied that his name was ‘Dave,’” Balison said, adding that the attacker then produced a pair of scissors and demanded $50 from the driver.
Balison said the driver told the woman he had no cash, at which time she lessened her demand.
“She told him she was hungry and demanded he give her $20, telling him, quote, ‘I will kill you,’” Ballison said.
When the man still couldn’t come up with any money, Balison said the woman stabbed him three times in the forearm with the scissors and told him to drive to a bank.
Court heard the man offered to drive to the Royal Bank on Tranquille Road, but the attacker felt its location was too close to the North Shore RCMP office.

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