Who we are

SWAN grew out of a pilot community health care initiative that extended HIV outreach to local massage businesses.

During the project, we recognized that women working in massage businesses dealt with a host of issues much broader than sexual health.

These women were most concerned about issues related to the law, immigration, employment, and safety among others.

At the end of the project, we recognized the importance of outreach work and decided to continue working together.

In December 2002, the outreach workers officially formed SWAN Vancouver which now stands for Supporting Women’s Alternatives Network. In 2008, we dropped our previous name “Sex Workers Action Network” to ensure the inclusion of im/migrant women who do sex work but do not self-identify as sex workers. 

In 2017, SWAN became a registered charity.

Our Mission

SWAN promotes the rights, health, and safety of im/migrant women engaged in indoor sex work through frontline service and systemic advocacy.

Our Values

Integrity
Intersectional Feminism
Anti-racism
Equity

Safety

Self-determination

Rights-based practice

Our Vision

Safety, rights, and freedoms for im/migrant women engaged in sex work.

Position Statements

SWAN’s position statements make clear our stance on key priority areas, and bring detail to our beliefs and values that guide our mission. SWAN utilizes current research and consultations with the women we serve to inform these statements, programs, and services.

Sex work is not trafficking, sexual exploitation, or child and youth exploitation.

Sex work is work.

Sex work is the exchange of sexual services between adults for money or goods.

Human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, and harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, or the abuse of power or a position of vulnerability; or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation. Human trafficking can occur in various industries, such as agriculture, construction, garment, manufacturing, hospitality, domestic work, and the sex industry, among others.

Sexual exploitation involves any actual or attempted abuse of vulnerable persons, or abuse of a differential power or trust, for sexual purposes.

Child and youth exploitation involves sexual activity with children and youth under the age of 18 in exchange for money, drugs, food, shelter, or any other considerations.

We believe that effectively countering human trafficking, sexual exploitation, and child and youth exploitation requires recognizing the distinction between these crimes and sex work.

SWAN supports the full decriminalization of sex work.

SWAN advocates for the sex work sector to have the labour rights and protections as other sectors.

Canada’s Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA) criminalizes the sex industry(1). PCEPA increases sex work stigma and creates unsafe working conditions by impeding im/migrant sex workers from reporting violence, violating their basic human rights, and preventing them from accessing labour and legal protections.

Migrant sex workers experience multi-layered criminalization. The Immigration and Refugee Protection (IRPR) Regulations prohibit temporary residents in Canada from engaging in sex work(2). In combination with PCEPA, IRPR creates disproportionate vulnerabilities to systemic violence and barriers to reporting violence for migrant sex workers.

SWAN advocates for the full decriminalization of sex work, i.e. decriminalization that includes migrant sex workers.

(1) PCEPA criminalizes paying for sexual services, communicating to exchange sexual services, profiting as a third party from someone else’s sexual services, procuring someone to provide sexual services, and third party advertising to provide sexual services. See: Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, Sections 286.2, 286.3, 286.4, 286.5.

((2) IRPR states temporary residents are “not to enter into an employment agreement, or extend the term of an employment agreement, with an employer who, on a regular basis, offers striptease, erotic dance, escort services or erotic massages.” See: Justice Laws Website, Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, Sections 183.1, 196.1, 200.3

Our Team

The people who work at SWAN share the vision and values of our community.

Angela Wu, Executive Director, SWAN Vancouver

Angela Wu

She/her

Executive Director
I work at SWAN because the organization provides vital support to im/migrant sex workers who are otherwise unable to access mainstream services.
 
My work aims to challenge the barriers that impede the rights of racialized and systemically marginalized sex workers.
Kelly Go smiles while standing at SWAN Vancouver office. She has long brown hair with bangs and a black shirt. A window behind her shows downtown apartments in the distance.

Kelly Go

She/her

Program Manager

I work at SWAN because of its intersectional and person-centred approach.

I am honoured to be able to be in this position to support this community. I hope that the work I do can help create a more equitable society that respects and values im/migrant sex workers as an integral part.

Hayley smiling wearing glasses and a grey zip up hoodie. Downtown Vancouver apartments in the background.

Hayley Leung

She/her

Outreach Coordinator

I work at SWAN because of the organization’s person-centred and grassroots approach. I am honoured to be part of a growing organization.

As the Outreach Coordinator, I am able to support im/migrant women who engage in the sex industry to work safely and build relationships with women who are often underserved.

Heather

Crystal Laderas

She/her

Communications Manager

I work at SWAN because I want to see accurate representations of im/migrant women who engage in sex work.   

Through advocacy and working with newsrooms, I hope to see fact-based reporting that will help end the stigma around these women and the industry they work in.

Victoria Curtis smiles, wearing a grey shirt, she has brown, shoulder length hair. Downtown Vancouver apartments are in the background through the window.

Victoria Curtis

She/her

Project Manager

I work at SWAN because I believe in the inherent dignity of every person.

I am passionate about serving im/migrants, particularly where there are systemic barriers keeping them from accessing basic human rights and services.

Chantel Lee, with short black hair, wearing a white t-shirt and blue cardigan, smiles while standing at the SWAN Vancouver office. Downtown buildings are seen in the window behind them.

Chantel Lee

She/they

Netreach Coordinator
I work at SWAN because I believe in agency and the right to choose. SWAN has shown me how essential and empowering culturally safe spaces are and I am grateful to be a part of its social justice work.
 
I am honoured to be able to lend my voice and energy to the incredible work SWAN does. I hope that the work I do can helps contribute to a more imaginative world that celebrates community connection and compassionate care.
Chantel in the centre smiling, wearing glasses and a checkered shirt. Window showing nearby apartments in the background.

Ayaka Yokoyama

She/her

Office Manager

I work at SWAN because I admire its dedication to providing meaningful services to such a niche yet significant demographic that is severely neglected. 

As an Office Manager, I hope my work supporting SWAN staff contributes to community wellness and leads to safer working and living environments for im/migrant women engaged in sex work.

 

Chantel in the centre smiling, wearing glasses and a checkered shirt. Window showing nearby apartments in the background.

Meris McArthur

She/her
HUMAN RESOURCES Manager

I work at SWAN because of the organization’s person-centred approach that recognizes self-determination for the community we serve.

I am passionate about antiracism, intersectional feminism, and human rights for all, and I am honoured to be able to apply these principles to the work I do every day.

Janet is wearing a black t-shirt and grey cardigan and glasses. She has long black hair.

Janet Hung

She/her
Outreach Support Worker 
I work at SWAN because the organization values self-determination and an intersectional approach when working and providing services to im/migrant women.

I hope to support im/migrant women facing systemic barriers while contributing to a safer working environment in the sex work industry. 

Board of Directors

The biannually elected board of directors oversee the conduct of business and provide strategic guidance.

Directors draw upon their professional, personal, and experiential knowledge to govern the organization. Board members are elected at Annual General Meetings, but applications to join the board are welcome any time, find out more information here.

Mindy Abramowitz

Mindy Abramowitz

She/her

Chair & Co-Treasurer
I welcome the opportunity to share my professional experience working in the charity and non-profit sectors and to harness financial literacy in the service of social justice.

I aim to strengthen and sustain the internal systems that underpin SWAN’s work and help to create stability and strategy behind our activism.

Bronwyn McBride SWAN board member

Bronwyn McBride

She/her

Secretary
I joined SWAN’s board because of my academic background in community-based research involving sex workers, and my personal commitment to promoting sex workers’ labour conditions and human rights.

I hope to contribute my research, writing and knowledge translation expertise to SWAN’s community-based research initiatives as well as advocacy and awareness campaigns. It’s a privilege for me to have this opportunity to apply my skills and community connections to SWAN’s systemic advocacy supporting im/migrant women engaged in indoor sex work.

Bronwyn McBride SWAN board member

Kelly Yang

She/her

Co-Treasurer

I joined SWAN’s board because I love SWAN Vancouver’s grassroots approach and the various meaningful and educational initiatives and programs.

I hope to utilize my professional knowledge in finance and accounting to support SWAN and streamline the processes and financial operations within the organization.

Bronwyn McBride SWAN board member

Steph Sia

She/her

Director

I joined SWAN’s board because I want to further educate myself on the experiences of im/migrant sex workers in Vancouver.

I hope to bring my own decade-long knowledge and expertise to SWAN Vancouver and to reach im/migrant sex workers in Vancouver with the hopes that it will help benefit them and make an impact on their lives.

SWAN Board member Melody Wise.

Melody Wise

She/her

Director

I joined SWAN’s board because I am invested in work that protects and advances the rights, health and safety of im/migrant sex workers, massage workers and other marginalized groups who engage in informal labour economies.

I hope to work humbly in support of SWAN’s mission and vision from a feminist, intersectional, anti-racist framework, contributing formal and informal experience working on the frontlines of the anti-violence movement and in community-based participatory research work. 

SWAN Vancouver board member Kristina Corpin-Moser has long black, curly hair. She's wearing blue rimmed glasses and a white shirt.

Kristina Corpin-Moser 

She/her

Director

I joined SWAN’s Board because of my passion for im/migrant and sex worker rights. With my background in frontline anti-violence work, community-based organizing and non-profit governance, I hope to make meaningful contributions to support SWAN’s important mission and vision. 

Transparency

We know it’s important to you that your funding or donations are used effectively.

It’s important to us, too.

That’s why we work hard to be as transparent as possible.

You can also view our T3010 Registered Charity Information Return data for the past 5 years on the Canada Revenue Agency website here.

Careers

We’re a group of feminists whose feminism includes trans women and sex workers.

Are you passionate about systems change from an intersectional feminist lens, advocacy, policy and/or direct services? Then come join SWAN’s team!

Unfortunately, no positions are open at this time.

We are proud members of…

BC Network of Sex Work Social Service Providers
Global Network of Sex Work Projects
Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women
Light blue background, purple block text reads: Migrant Rights Network