Over the last few months I have been involved in many discussions about sexuality, sexual exploitation, and sex work. This is not really a surprise I imagine, given what the organizations I represent do in the community; however, it has really highlighted for me the diversity of opinions and experiences in these areas. Somewhere during these discussions I had the opportunity as one of my Day in the Life experiences to participate in the Dream Catchers group at Klinic.
Dream Catchers is a program for women and transgender individuals transitioning from the sex trade, providing a safe and supportive place to start your healing journey. Weekly support groups are confidential and private.
Many of the individuals who are part of Dream Catchers have participated in our group for several years, and they have brought friends, making it very much another family like gathering. It is evident the skills and support that participants get here are important and lasting.
The group is held in a space that we had specially designed at Klinic, a safe place that honours the Four Directions and Indigenous knowledge. We all have our shoes off and participate in a smudge to begin. The group also regularly includes drumming in their sessions.
During my visit the group had decided to prepare different communication pieces on what Dream Catchers has meant for them, and to share it through multiple means that they had been using as communication and self-care techniques. Below is an example of a mandala that was shared and now hangs on my office wall.
I also was given several writings and drawings of different things that the participants had experienced through the group, and we had the opportunity to discuss them. Though I cannot share all of them (I did ensure I had permission to share) I was struck by the beautiful simplicity of this quote:
“Dream Catchers is important to me because I always can come back here. This is where I got sober and reclaimed my life 12 years ago. I’ve grown a lot since and I am a working mother of 2. I’m just glad to have the continued support.”
The words and stories that were shared with me are humbling. I am reminded of the nature of power, and that my job here is to learn from these women, and to do my best to use what I learn in a manner that respects and supports their words and their trust. I listen as the group shares, laughs and gently teases each other in a manner that reflects a relationship that has developed with time and trust. I reflect on this gift that they have given me in their words and their drawings, and I am grateful for the reminder yet again of the importance of presence. This group exists because we created a space and provided wonderful supporters to help foster it, but the wisdom and learnings belong to this group and the special presence they have created together, for which I am thankful to be allowed to share in.