Not for Sale: Feminists Resisting Prostitution and Pornography

By Rebecca Whisnant; Christine Stark | Go to book overview

Melissa Farley and Jacqueline Lynne


Prostitution in Vancouver:
Pimping women and the
colonization of First Nations

Introduction

The recent history of Canada is the history of the colonization of First Nations.1 Colonization is a process that includes geographic incursion, sociocultural dislocation, the establishment of external political control and economic dispossession, the provision of low-level social services, and ultimately, the creation of ideological formulations around race and skin colour that position the colonizers at a higher evolutionary level than the colonized (Frideres 1983).

Colonial practices that harmed Canada's First Nations were theft of land, the imposition of private property rights on nations, brutal labor exploitation, and violent conversions to Christianity. In order to recognize the sexual exploitation of First Nations women in contemporary Canadian prostitution, one must first understand how all First Nations women were subjugated by sexist colonial policies. Prostitution requires a devalued class of women (Barry 1995) which Canada produced by means of powerfully oppressive and interlocking forces: the military, the state, the church, and market capitalism.

Canada's First Nations peoples suffered colonial oppression from both the British and the French. Colonization results in a multitude of losses among those who are colonized. Colonized peoples lose their land, often their language and culture, and their health as well. Prostitution can be understood as the colonization of women by men, generally. Since prostitution is hierarchically structured not only by gender but also by race/ethnicity and by class, First Nations Canadian women are often at the bottom of a brutal hierarchy within prostitution itself.


Colonization of Canada's First Nations

Canada's colonizers profited from the prostitution of First Nations women. The following is an early account of colonial procurement and First Nations resistance:

1 We use the terms 'Aboriginal', 'First Nations', and 'Native' throughout this paper to refer
to nations of people who have lived in Canada continuously for thousands of years.

-106-

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