About 15 per cent of men pay for sex, according to statistics compiled by Melissa Farley at the Prostitution Research and Education website.
The majority of these men are 24 to 27 years old, fathers and college-educated men.
Statistics like this are one reason why the Christian & Missionary Alliance denomination established a justice initiative known as Defend Dignity to address the issue of prostitution and lobby for its abolition in Canada.
“We call ourselves an abolitionist organization,” Rev. Tyrone McKenzie, pastor of Lawson Heights Alliance Church, says. “Our aim is to get a groundswell of support for the issue by making connections with churches, women’s and faith-based groups, and non-governmental organizations.”
Defend Dignity came out of the work Regina-born Glendyne Gerrard was doing in C&MA women’s ministry and her personal experiences connecting with poor and oppressed women. Gerrard is now Defend Dignity’s director.
“She kept coming in contact with women affected by prostitution,” McKenzie says, “and as that contact grew, Defend Dignity became an organization of its own.”
Defend Dignity focuses on advocacy at the local and national level. The group works to connect locally with informational forums in churches across the country, and federally with members of Parliament. The organization has strong ties with the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, which does most of the work at the federal level.
EFC’s political analyst Julia Beazley will be in Saskatoon to speak at a Defend Dignity forum being held on Sunday at Circle Drive Alliance Church, beginning at 6 p.m.
Amanda Stephenson, one of the event organizers, says the forum is travelling to a dozen cities across Canada. In Saskatchewan, Defend Dignity will hold events in Regina, Prince Albert and Saskatoon.
A group of experts will speak on the topic of prostitution in Canada. One of the speakers is Beatrice Littlechief, a former prostitute who is now an emergency services manager at Soul’s Harbour, a rescue mission in Regina. Other speakers include a police officer from Calgary, a political analyst, a representative from the Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women organization, and Jordon Cooper from The Lighthouse in Saskatoon.
A number of civic, provincial and federal politicians will also be in attendance to hear what the general public has to say on the issue.
“The purpose of the event is to get information out there,” Stephenson says. “People attending can participate by texting their questions throughout the event and having them answered by the panel.”
Stephenson says there will be a networking component to the evening, as “10 different local organizations, including The Lighthouse, The Bridge, Salvation Army and John School (which rehabilitates johns) will be on site with information booths.”
McKenzie says the biggest reason he is involved in Defend Dignity is because it is evident in scripture that Jesus cared for women who were affected by prostitution and sexual exploitation.
“As a follower of Christ, I, too, need to have compassion and advocate for victims of violence and prostitution,” he says. “The second reason is that there is a real need for men in our congregations to come to grips with the issue of pornography, which drives the whole prostitution industry. I find the statistics on pornography to be shocking.
“If I could do one day over again, it would be the day nude pictures flashed around playground in Grade 5. For many men, that was their first exposure to pornography, and in one way or another, they were affected. I believe no matter where we’ve encountered pornography, we can address the topic and take steps toward personal healing and wholeness. In our congregation, we’re trying to provide a solution for our men by getting them involved in the Harbour of Hope at The Lighthouse doing handyman renovations.”
One member of Parliament told the group if 50 MPs received 60 letters a month on a particular issue, and seven to 10 personal visits, that could be enough impetus for the government to put the issue at the top of its agenda. The event will provide an opportunity to write letters on the subject of prostitution to MPs, the prime minister and the minister of justice.
Stephenson says Sunday’s forum is free and open to everyone.
“We’re encouraging youth and young adults to make it a priority,” she says. “I grew up in Saskatoon and lived a very sheltered life. I didn’t know the realities of trafficking and prostitution until a couple of years ago.
“So many people, especially in the church, don’t want to admit it exists. But it does. This event is purely educational, to let people know what’s happening in our city.”
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We just uploaded our revisited tenants guide to our website. On it you will find our rules, procedures, useful phone numbers, and information about the Lighthouse’s affordable housing suites in one place.
Each new tenant gets a copy of the guide when they move in but it’s now it is accessible anytime from anywhere, even on mobile devices.
It’s part of our ongoing efforts to be as transparent as we can as an organization with funders, donors, other agencies, and especially our own tenants.
By the time the conversation was over he had a smile on his face and established goals, more than just moving out of the shelter but also to ensure he would not have to stay there again.
In response to concerns raised about people being left outside when they can’t or won’t obtain funding to stay at a shelter, are banned from a shelter, or prefer to live off the grid, The Lighthouse has opened it’s Out of the Cold Shelter.
The Out of the Cold Shelter is open to
- youth (16 and older – for those younger there is a separate system that is equipped to help them)
- pets (kennels provided)
The OTCS will have its own space for unique situations but most people will be housed in a variety of other shelter spaces at The Lighthouse.
At present The Lighthouse houses in emergency shelters both men and women.
Support is provided by well trained staff during the night which are there to provide emergency services, housing supports, and make sure the resident has the essentials like hygiene products, warm clothing, and nutritious food.
The next morning support staff work with the resident to figure out their housing options so that no one will have to spent another night in the cold.
An important part of what we do is provide safe transportation from where they are at to where they need to be. People reach out to us from all the city and as the city grows and the weather drops, those distances are further and further away. In extreme temperatures the danger is that people won’t come in because of the distance needed to travel. To overcome this The Lighthouse is working with churches, agencies, and others to pick up people when needed and transport themselves, their belongings and any others that are with them to safety.
This Christmas, you can give the best gift of all; hope to someone that needs it by giving in the following ways!
Home for the Holidays
- The Lighthouse Supported Living needs your help in helping someone celebrate their first Christmas in a home of their own. We are looking for partners to help us provide a Christmas they will never forget as they enjoy their first Christmas in their new home.
- A donation of $50 allows staff to hand-select a Christmas gift for a resident of our supported living units. It also includes a Christmas card and note, expressing encouragement and holiday wishes for the recipient. Each year staff talk to each one of our residents asking them what they would like for Christmas. It’s often the first time any of them have ever had a Christmas wish answered. Partnering with us for this program not only allows us to meet their needs but it often provides a much needed item in their life.
The men and women who stay in The Lighthouse’s Emergency Shelters take very little for granted. One of the best gifts they can receive this holiday season is also one of the most practical. Gift-filled backpacks provide encouragement and assistance during the time of year when our residents need it the most. Purchase a backpack and fill is with some of these basic personal items:
- Bar of soap, in container
- Travel-size shampoo and conditioner
- Hairbrush or comb
- Toothbrush & toothpaste
- Nail clippers
- Lip balm
- Travel-size lotion
- Band Aids
- Pen & notepad
- Transit passes* (10 Ride Transit Go-Card is greatly appreciated)
- Men’s gloves
- Gift Cards for coffee, movies or food*
- Christmas card or personal note of encouragement
*Please note that transit passes and gift cards may be removed and redistributed to ensure that all Christmas gifts are as equitable as possible.
** Please do not include food items or any items containing an alcohol base, such as mouthwash or perfume.
Please drop off all Christmas donations at:
The Lighthouse Supported Living Inc.
304 2nd Avenue South
Find out more:
To find out more about our Christmas opportunities and how you can get involved at The Lighthouse this Christmas, contact us at: phone: 306.653.0538 or email: email@example.com
This holiday season, we invite you to touch a life in need…and bring joy to friends and family.