Cherry Smiley co-founder of Indigenous Women Against the Sex Industry.

Cherry Smiley co-founder of Indigenous Women Against the Sex Industry.

Speakers share how family violence leads to troubled life

Last week people living in communities in and around Williams Lake shared ideas on eradicating violence against women.

Last week people living in communities in and around Williams Lake shared ideas on eradicating violence against women.

The discussions were led by two Canadian activists who were invited by the Williams Lake RCMP Victim Services.

Trish Baptie of Formerly Exploited Voices Now Educating (EVE) and Cherry Smiley, co-founder of Indigenous Women Against the Sex Industry gave three presentations to stakeholders at city hall and in the First Nations communities of Anaham, Alkali Lake and Sugar Cane.

Mick Howell, program manager for RCMP Victim Services in Williams Lake, initiated the invitation, something he said he’d been working on for about four months.

“Often the outlying areas don’t have the opportunity to have world-class speakers,” Howell said.

“We thought it would be a great idea for them to go out there.”

Baptie, a former prostitute, told the Weekend Advisor she started working in the sex trade when she was 13 years old.

“I grew up in a home rife with domestic violence,” Baptie shared.

“I worked in Vancouver, and for 10 years I worked on the Downtown Eastside. I counted some of Robert Pickton’s victims amongst my friends.”

Today Baptie works with EVE.

During her two days in the Cariboo Chilcotin she and Smiley led interactive brainstorming conversations about different forms of violence against women, particularly domestic violence, sexual assaults and prostitution.

Many prostituted women start out as prostituted children and many victims of domestic violence don’t know there can be another way to live, Baptie said, drawing on her own experiences.

Baptie said growing up with domestic violence resulted in her becoming involved with violent relationships. It wasn’t until her life changed that she understood that violence wasn’t normal.

She credited the change in her life to a relationship she formed with an outreach worker who helped her escape.

In their conversations with the communities, brainstorming sessions explored what domestic violence looks like and what a healthy relationship looks like.

Participants were encouraged to keep an eye out in their own communities to help people who are victims.

“People made it clear they knew someone or they themselves had formerly been involved in relationships that had a component of domestic violence,” said Baptie, who was impressed everyone brought something amazing to the table for ending violence against women and imagining a world free from it.

Locals also talked about doing an awareness campaign that would be directed at men participating in reading a pledge that they will not sexually and physically assault women or allow other men to do that, Smiley said.

“I heard that a couple of times and I would love to see some sort of awareness campaign come out of that.”

Smiley works as a sexual assault crisis worker and hears stories of girls 12, 13 and 14.

In the case of First Nations victims, some are even as young as 10 or 11.

“It’s a huge problem and it is one that people sometimes think will not affect them or that it doesn’t happens in their communities.”

The Nordic Model

Baptie and Smiley were in Ottawa Monday lobbying the federal government to adopt the Nordic Model in Canada as a way to tackle the sex trade industry.

The model decriminalizes the women involved in the sex trade so they don’t face criminal sanctions for the positions they find themselves in.

“We know mostly women are involved with prostitution because of poverty, mental health, addictions and colonization,” Baptie said.

The focus is then turned to the demand for paid sexual access to children’s and women’s bodies by the men who are buying it to criminalize them, she added.

“They are abusing their money and power to demand sexual access so they should be criminalized.”

Another component in the model is to provide robust exiting services for women who are leaving prostitution.

Whether it’s detox, rehab, affordable housing or a guaranteed livable income, in the Nordic model women would provided with social safety nets needed to change their lives.

“We are in a moment right now in Canada where there is going to be a change in the laws around prostitution,” Smiley said.

The Nordic model offers the best hope and the best way to support women, and the laws are going to affect everyone, she added.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

Williams Lake’s YBC Bowlers Remy LeBlanc (back from left), coach Kevin McAlpine, Kara-lynn McAlpine, coach Lindsey Kelley, coach Lisa Mcalpine, Avrel Kidney (middle from left), Weston Kelly, Renee O’Hara, Lily Stewart, Brandon LeBlanc, Serena Kidney (front from left), Elsa Kunka and Colton Lendvoy have managed to carry on through the COVID-19 pandemic while following health guidelines. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Youth bowlers still throwing strikes, despite pandemic

Young bowlers have been able to carry on relatively unaffected due to the nature of the sport

Members of the Tl’etinqox First Nations are awaiting word of when they will receive their second dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
‘We need the second round’: Tl’etinqox Chief Joe Alphonse questions vaccine roll-out

It’s been 42 days since Tl’etinqox First Nation members received their first dose of Moderna

A drive-thru restaurant and beer and wine store is being proposed by Broadway Landco Management Ltd. for the former Chemo RV site at 1704 Broadway Ave. South. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Drive-thru restaurant, beer and wine store proposed for Williams Lake

Owners of property at 1704 Broadway Ave. South have applied for a zoning amendment

Avalanche Canada has issued a special avalanche warning for the Cariboo Mountains effective through the weekend. (Wes Gregg photo)
Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
B.C. woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Most Read