About Us

Becki Ross – Principal Investigator

Becki Ross is an associate professor, cross-appointed in Women’s and Gender Studies and Sociology at the University of British Columbia. Since 1995, she has taught and researched in areas of feminist anti-racist qualitative methods, historical sociology, the sociology of ‘family’, gender relations, the sociology of sport, and the sociology of sexualities. She won a Killam Teaching Prize in 2005, and the Sociology Undergraduate Association’s Teaching Prize in 2008. Her published work appears in the Journal of Women’s History, Journal of the History of Sexuality, Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, Atlantis, andLabour/le travail, as well as in a range of anthologies. The author of The House that Jill Built: A Lesbian Nation in Formation (1995), and co-editor of Bad Attitude/s On Trial: Feminism, Pornography, and the Butler Decision, Becki’s new book, Burlesque West: Showgirls, Sex, and Sin in Postwar Vancouver, will be launched by the University of Toronto Press in August 2009.

Becki’s recently funded SSHRC project (profiled on this website) concerns issues of sex work, urban ‘renewal’, queer space, feminist/gay organizing, de/colonization, trans bodies, and state/police regulation in the 1970s and 1980s in British Columbia. Becki is a long-time activist in feminist struggles for reproductive choice, lesbian/bi/gay/queer and trans liberation, and sex workers’ rights. She has worked closely with Little Sister’s Bookstore, Xtra West! newspaper, Heritage Vancouver, Out on Screen/Queer History Project, and Presentation House Gallery.

Jamie Lee Hamilton – Research Assistant

Jamie Lee Hamilton (born September 20, 1955 in Vancouver, British Columbia) is a Canadian politician and advocate of aboriginal people, LGBT, residents of the city’s poverty-stricken Downtown Eastside, and sex trade workers. She was an independent candidate for the publicly elected Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation in the city’s 2008 municipal election,and received the highest number of votes 15,500 for an Independent. She previously ran for Vancouver City Council in 1996, becoming the first transgender person ever to run for political office in Canada.  Jamie Lee Hamilton is also a writer, entertainer, and guest lecturer in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of British Columbia and in Humanities at Capilano University. She currently serves on the board of directors of the Greater Vancouver Native Cultural Society, which has served the aboriginal two-spirited community since 1978. Hamilton is a lifelong resident of the Downtown Eastside and Strathcona neighborhoods of Vancouver. In 1997 Xtra! West newspaper awarded her Community Hero for her tireless social justice work.

Ms Hamilton is often referred to as the Harvey Milk of Canadian politics. She is working on “the sex work history project” in a variety of capacities, as one of those expelled by BC court ruling in 1984. Her contribution to the project includes coordinating and conducting interviews, networking, public relations, fundraising, education, and archival searches.

Becca Schwenk – Archival Researcher

Becca Schwenk completed her undergraduate degree with a double major in Sociology and Gender, Sexuality, Feminism and Social Justice at McGill University. She connected with Becki Ross during a visiting semester at UBC, and was eager to continue acting as both an academic and an ally in the field of Sexuality and Social Justice studies. Her work involved sifting through the Vancouver City Archives for information on locations in the West End that were touched by the presence of Sex Workers. She also contributed to background creative processes like the website and the overall intentions of the Walking Tour. She has thoroughly enjoyed participating in this project, and hopes to continue working in the fields of Sexualities, Sex Work histories, and activism.

Rachael E. Sullivan – Research Assistant

Rachael E. Sullivan is Ph.D student in the Sociology Department at the University of British Columbia. Her research interests include social spaces and community relations in the area of sexuality and gender. Her MA thesis, completed at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, is entitled, “Between Lake, Rocks, and Trees: Exploring how lesbian, bisexual, and queer women access rural space in Thunder Bay, Ontario.” Rachael’s doctoral research is focused on sexualized spaces. She asks: how do undergraduate students identify, create and maintain queer spaces on the campus of UBC?  In April 2008, she was awarded the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award (in a campus-wide competition). Outside of academia, Rachael enjoys making art, baking, and going for hikes. Rachael’s contribution to the “sex work history project” includes generating a ‘chronology,’ designing maps, doing archival research and bibliographic searches, and conducting interviews.

Casson Brown – Research Assistant

Casson Brown grew up on the North Shore of Vancouver, but is now happy to call downtown Vancouver home.  She completed a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a minor in Critical Studies in Sexuality, and a Master of Arts in Sociology at the University ofBritish Columbia.  In her graduate research, Casson explored the ways in which pre-teen girls made meaning of the raced, classed, and heterogendered representations of ‘the ideal teen girl’ in popular girl-targeted video games. Casson is honoured to be working as a research assistant for the West End Sex Work History Project.  Her contribution includes transcribing interviews, preparing questions for interview participants, doing archival research, and analyzing mainstream media coverage of sex work from 1975-1985.  

Mandy McCrae – Research Assistant

Mandy McCrae is currently in her last semester of her undergraduate degree at the University of British Columbia.  Her major is in Sociology and her minor in Critical Studies in Sexuality.  This is her first opportunity to assist in a research project; she is thankful for the chance to work with such a driven team.  Tasks for the “sex work history project” include the design of the business card, logo, and website, as well as research into archived newspapers such as the Ubyssey and the West Ender. Mandy volunteers with the Pacific Immigrant Resources Society and is most interested in transmigration issues and immigration policies in Canada.