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After running away from her sexually abusive stepfather and being evicted from where she was living, Christal Capostinsky was placed in a shelter in downtown Vancouver where she met women who introduced her to drugs and sex work. A few months later, at 19 years old, addicted to heroin and working in the sex trade, Capostinsky felt she had nowhere to turn. Now at 30, Capostinsky is back in her hometown of Prince George. She is a mother, a full time social work student and has recovered from her drug addiction, but she is still very connected to her old life on the streets.
Capostinsky is the founder of New Hope, an organization that provides practical support for women in what she calls "survival sex work. She founded the organization last September after realizing that there are no resources exclusively for sex workers in the northern region. It's a place where women come from small, outlying communities hoping for a better life. New Hope is a unique resource for sex workers as the focus is not on exiting the sex trade, but rather on providing practical support, such as food, clothing and harm reduction materials.
They also hold skill-building workshops, refer patrons to health and legal services and advocate on their behalf. It doesn't work that way," Capostinsky explained. Instead, New Hope aims "to educate them and give them information so they can make healthier choices.
If that means they continue to work, that's alright with us," she added. The centre is currently open just four hours, one night a week, but Capostinsky plans to expand the hours in the future. They want to work. They want to be productive in society. They want to live a healthy life and it's really hard when you're continually oppressed. Almost all have drug addictions. This is one of the reasons Capostinsky refers to the trade as survival sex work.
They have no choice in the matter," she said. Godwin also estimated that about 85 percent of the women are aboriginal, which Capostinsky attributes to continuing problems with colonization. Transken added that it's important to recognize the societal factors that force women into survival sex work. Northern B. Until February, , New Hope was not receiving government funding, and the workshops, meals and necessities were funded through grants from other agencies.