SWAN Waterloo is a grassroots organization that is by and for sex workers. We provide different programs to support the community and strive to work with sex workers who are queer, transgender, Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC), street-based, HIV-positive, disabled, neurodivergent, poor, and those who use drugs. We operate in a model that embodies a love ethic for members and the community of Waterloo Region.
SWAN Waterloo is led by sex workers from different walks of life. Each has equal voting rights and helps to provide guidance for the programs that SWAN creates. We encourage leadership of those who marginalized beyond just their sex work and have re-developed our values in 2022 to actively stand against racism, transphobia, homophobia, ableism, ageism, and sexism.
In Waterloo region, sex workers face a variety of obstacles. Stigma is pervasive, especially for street-involved trans and BIPOC workers. There is a larger threat of violence to sex workers among these demographics. We also see huge struggles in sex workers ability to obtain secular employment or housing.
SWAN Waterloo provides Sex Worker Welcome training to businesses and organisations to help de-stigmatize their understanding of sex work. A major part of this is demystifying the differences between sex work and trafficking while acknowledging the exploitation of wage labour under capitalism. We have a drop-in program that is run by and for sex workers, a care package program that specifically supports street-based workers, and are currently working on developing a mutual aid fund.