A crowd of 100 gathered Friday morning outside Vancouver’s St. Paul’s Anglican Church, at the West End intersection of Jervis and Pendrell, to unveil a memorial — a retro lamp post with a red bulb.
The memorial honours sex workers who frequented these streets until the early 1980s, when they were driven away by city hall, police and the provincial government.
“The early 1980s marked the full-fledged anti-prostitution crusade to purge sex workers from the West End,” said Becki Ross, a University of B.C. sociology professor who has specialized in the sex trade. “Davie sex workers built the foundation of what would become this city’s first Gay-bourhood, and yet hookers on Davie have never been honoured as the former fighters for gender, sexual and racial minorities.”
Critics say the displacement of the sex trade, first from their apartments to the streets and alleys, and then out of the West End altogether, forced them into the unsafe conditions that eventually made them easy prey for serial killer Robert Pickton and others.