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New video show dangers of working the streets

Author: 
Stephen LaRose, Windspeaker Contributor, REGINA
Volume: 
18
Issue: 
9
Year: 
2001

Page 7

The File Hills Qu?Appelle Tribal Council has a new weapon to battle the child sex trade.

At a release party Dec. 8 in Regina, the tribal council and Birdsong Productions, a Regina-based film and video production company, introduced Lives Worth Living, a video designed to be shown to school children to warn them about the dangers of becoming prostitutes, and to give them help and support to get out of the illegal trade.

The 18-minute long video tells the story of a former child prostitute and the sad and ugly world of unsafe sex, drugs, illness and suicide that robs children working as prostitutes of their dignity, their sense of worth, and, often, their lives, said the council?s director of justice, Bev Poitras.

Filming took place in Regina, and wasn?t without its difficulties. When they filmed to dramatize the ?stroll? where child prostitutes work, ?soon we had a bunch of cars driving in the neighborhood,? said Regina city councilor Fred Clipsham, who helped write the movie?s script.

?The men in those cars were looking for child prostitutes, and thought the girls who were acting the scenes for the movie were actually children on the stroll.?

The child sex trade is a concern to many First Nations people in the Fort Qu?Appelle district.

?In Fort Qu?Appelle?a community that?s about 45 minutes away from the city of Regina?there are a lot of transient kids. We?re finding that these kids are coming to the streets of Regina, and they?re being recruited in Fort Qu?Appelle to work the streets of Regina,? said Poitras.

?Once we started doing the research, we found that life on the street is becoming inter-generational. There?s second and third generations of people living on the street.?

The video?s release coincides with national attention being paid to the problem of the child sex trade.

Sacred Lives, a recent report on the child prostitution trade in Canada completed by Save the Children Canada and released in early December, says nine out of 10 children involved with the child sex trade are Aboriginal.

Closer to home, more than half of the tribal council community members live in Regina, and many children who are from the reserves, or who are a generation removed from life on the reserve, end up as part of the more than 100 child prostitutes who work in Regina?s inner city, said Poitras.

Many children end up on the streets after being pimped by relatives?in some cases by their parents?in order to get money to feed their addictions, or the addictions of relatives.

The best way to fight the child sex trade is to heal the child, and the family, said Poitras. The video includes testimonials from Elders and First Nations? street workers who help children at risk learn more about their own spirituality and less about life on the stroll.

?Lots of people who are living in the cities have lost contact with the spiritual balance of First Nations? life. They have to re-connect with that, and get back into balance,? she said.

?The video shows the children that they can contact people to bring back that spirituality, and the respect they should have for themselves, their families, and each other.?

It?s the second time the tribal council and the video production company have teamed up to produce a video. Two years ago, they made an instructional video in order to steer youth away from involvement with street gangs.

Videos are an important way for groups such as social agencies, tribal councils, bands and schools to combat some of the social ills that afflict First Nations? society, said Poitras. It?s an effective way to reach young people.

?We thought that a video would be a great idea to get ideas across to people, especially to children. We wanted to target the kids and show them there are other lifestyles out there, and that there are people who can help them.?

The video also comes with a study guide that will be provided to social workers to help teach children about the danges of child prostitution.

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