We remember Wendy Babcock the woman, not just for her activism, but for her tenacity, humour, boundless energy and drive. She was a mother, a loving sister and daughter, and was part of a close chosen family of friends.
Wendy dedicated her life to the rights of others. She was always willing to talk to people and answer questions about the issues she was passionate about – sex worker rights, harm reduction, mental health and child welfare reform. She felt that anyone’s mind could change about a particular issue. Her patience, quick wit and disarming personality allowed her to rally people to her causes. She never turned her advocacy and support off. If she saw someone outside of a bar or a strip club and they didn’t have a safe place to stay, she was always ready to help them find one.
Babcock was extremely proud of her role co-initiating a partnership with Toronto Police Service to ensure that sex workers can report assault without fear of persecution or prosecution, and being a member of the advisory group to the Special Victims Unit. She was co-founder of the Bad Date Coalition of Toronto, a group that produces a monthly Bad Date Book, which publishes reports of violent acts committed against sex workers, including details of the attacker, an important tool in the safety and survival of sex workers.
Wendy was an excellent public speaker. She was much sought after by community and government agencies because of her knowledge and experience.
In 2008, David Miller and the City of Toronto acknowledged her endless activism with the inaugural Public Health Champion Award for her work with sex workers.
Everyone who met Wendy was impacted by interacting with her. Many of the women who met Wendy credit her with inspiring them to work toward changes in the system. For example, several women made the commitment to work on the issue of violence against women and children because of Wendy. She was always on, always educating, always advocating. This drive led her to complete college and get into law school based on an LSAT score in the 98th percentile, with only a Grade 7 education. She was currently entering her third year of a four-year law degree. Her mission in going to law school was very specific; she wanted to reform the child welfare system. She was also interested in anti-poverty law. She saw the law as a way for her to continue to advocate for the rights of others.
Wendy gave a tremendous amount of her time and passion to serving others and was always grateful when the community supported her in her goals. Last year, when people began to send in donations for Wendy to continue to attend law school, Wendy was overwhelmed and touched by the generosity of people from all walks of life: from people who were homeless sending in whatever change they had to wealthy people giving larger donations. Wendy read every card and note sent to her, and this provided strength for her to persevere through the past year of law school.
Wendy was the mother of a son she loved dearly. She often expressed to her friends that what she wanted was for him to have a good and happy life. Her experience losing custody of her son to the Children’s Aid Society and her own experiences as a child in care caused her to be passionate about protecting the rights of children and reforming the child welfare system.
Wendy will be greatly missed by her family, her friends, the sex work and activist community, the graduates of the AWCCA program at George Brown College and her clients.