In Memory of Wendy Babcock – child prostitute, Osgoode law student, mother, fearless activist (1978-2011)

Photo from Erin Hatfield at insidetoronto.com (Nov 2009)

Last Tuesday the Toronto activist scene tragically lost one of its heroes.  At the age of 32, and after living a lifetime of challenges, Wendy Babcock was found dead in her apartment.  The cause of death has not been released, though police do not suspect foul play.

Wendy overcame many more challenges than most of us are faced with.  She came from an abusive home and was out on the streets by the tender age of 11.  She was introduced to the sex work industry at the age of 15 when her first sexual encounter was exchanged for $75.  At the age of 16 she dropped out of school and became a mother shortly after.  Her son was taken from her by the Children’s Aid in 2003 and in the same year quit sex work when a colleague of hers was murdered on the job.

However, despite all of her trials and disadvantages Wendy pushed on.  She graduated from George Brown and went on to begin a law degree at Osgoode Hall Law School – one of few students accepted without a university education.

Wendy was a fearless defender of sex worker rights and hoped to use her law degree to humanize the child welfare system.  In 2008, she received the Toronto’s first Public Health Champion award.  Her story caught the eye of numerous news outlets in 2009 when she began law school and she was met with an outpouring of support and donations from strangers to sustain her studies.

Wendy’s perseverance and dedication to the protection of the vulnerable is an inspiration to us all.  She will be sadly missed by many.

Xtra! news has published an excellent story, here.  Click here to view a CBC interview with Wendy from 2009 when she first started law school.

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