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 formed the Sex Workers Action Network (SWAN).

In 2008, SWAN incorporated as a non-profit society. We changed our name to Supporting Women’s Alternatives 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 coerced 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.

Heather

Alison Clancey

She/her

Programs Director

I work at SWAN because the organization addresses the complexity of the issues im/migrant sex workers face through direct services, policy, and advocacy.

The work I do raises critical awareness of the harms of mainstream anti-trafficking initiatives that is essential in achieving decriminalization of the sex work sector.

Heather

Heather Wong-Mitchell

She/her

Operations Director
I work at SWAN because the organization offers a unique blend of on-the-ground, person-centred service, and high-level advocacy for systemic policy change.

Much of my work is behind the scenes. I love knowing that the work I do supports program staff to make real differences in the lives of the women we serve.

Heather

Angela Wu

She/her

Project Manager
I work at SWAN because the organization provides vital support to im/migrant sex workers who are otherwise unable to access mainstream services.

My project aims to shift representations of im/migrant sex workers in the mainstream media. This shift will reduce the stigma that further contributes to harmful laws and policy.

Heather

Kelly Go

She/her

Program Manager
I work at SWAN because of its intersectional and person-centred approach in working with im/migrant self-identified women who work in the sex industry.

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.

Heather

Bopo

She/her

Netreach Coordinator
I work at SWAN because I am passionate about supporting migrant workers.

By accompanying the women to medical and legal appointments, I support them to care about their well-being and help enable them to work in a safe working environment.

Heather

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.

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Heather

Amanda Wang

She/her

Outreach worker & Peer Program Liaison
I work at SWAN because I love creating and hosting events. For the community that SWAN serves, I believe it is important for them to have their own social groups for their physical and mental health and I’m honoured to do so.

I create and host various activities for the women based on their needs and desires, which help create a sense of community and solidarity. I also deliver safe supplies to the women so they can work safely.

Heather

Julie Sou

She/her

Research Lead

I work at SWAN because I strongly believe in the frontline and advocacy work this organization conducts in furthering the rights and freedoms of im/migrant women in sex work.

I am conducting a research project that explores the impacts of immigration law reform on the rights, health, and safety of newcomer, migrant, and immigrant women engaged in indoor sex work.

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 more information here.

Jane Li SWAN board Vice Chair

Jane Li

She/her

Vice chair 
I joined SWAN’s board because I am passionate about anti-racist and anti-oppressive practice, sex work activism, and im/migrant women’s rights.

I support the leadership team and strengthen direct service programs; ensuring that SWAN continues to operate in alignment with organizational strategic vision, mission, and values.

Mindy Abramowitz

Mindy Abramowitz

She/her

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

Director
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

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.

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Bronwyn McBride SWAN board member

Kelly Yang

She/her

Director

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.

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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!

Communications Director

SWAN is actively recruiting a Communications Director to join our 3-person leadership team.

  • Communications expertise,
  • non-profit leadership experience
  • passion for and alignment with SWAN’s work.

Check out the full posting, including compensation details here.

We are proud members of…

Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform logo
BC Network of Sex Work Social Service Providers
Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women
Global Network of Sex Work Projects

Mailing Address

#325 - 1101 Seymour Street
Vancouver, BC
V6B 0R1