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Published in Westender on Dec 09, 2004

‘Praise for a man who dared to care’

By Elizabeth Hudson

For all those who loved a prostitute or were working in the sex trade, active or retired, a heavy sense of dread was felt when newspaper headlines began appearing across North America detailing the case of Vancouver's missing women.

As a woman who once worked Vancouver's Granville Street, I have been fortunate to escape the street, the sex trade, and my addictions. In my day we had our fair share of bad dates, but never, ever anything like what was being reported. And so with each grim newscast on the missing women, I understood only too well something horrific, something evil was happening on the streets of Vancouver.

Prostitutes simply do not vanish. I stood by my belief that the perpetrator was someone who knew the language of the street and blended in on the street scene. Other women with experience of the street said the same things, but no one seemed to be listening. Then I read of Wayne Leng and he was doing more than just listening. He had set up a phone line for tips on his missing friend Sarah, and/or any other of the missing women in the Vancouver area.

When I was on the street, I was treated like a leper, for a prostitute has few friends. Other than a small group of sex trade workers, I was in all other instances or social situations a social outcast. So I understood the hand of a friend on the street was a blessed thing indeed.

It is almost unheard of to have anyone admit to their friendship with a whore. Yet here was this person, Wayne Leng, going out of his way to let the world know he was a friend to a prostitute - a very concerned friend. A friend who allowed the news cameras to study him, a friend who met with writers and journalists, a man who walked the Downtown Eastside desperately seeking his friend Sarah. Experience taught me that had I gone missing during my time on the street, no one would have stepped forward in hopes of finding me, and so Wayne's dedication to his missing friend moved me a great deal. But he did not stop at his tip line; he forged ahead and created the 'Vancouvermissing' website so that friends and family of other missing women could correspond and come together. Wayne showed honour and valour in his fight for a case - then a cause that would have remained simply another missing prostitute, in rapid succession only more multiplying files on missing prostitutes. He was not alone, but he was very much alone as a friend.

Through the strength of his resolve, Wayne has succeeded in bringing some awareness to the plight of working street women, but he has also brought some peace to those that love these women. The 'Vancouvermissing' website is as it always was: Wayne Leng's story of love and determination.
Elizabeth Hudson is a writer and a former Vancouver street worker who now lives in Calgary's deep suburbs with her husband, three dogs, and Bart the cat.

Send your ope-ed on any subject (max. 500 words) to editor@westender.com or fax: 604 606-8687, attention: "I Say". The editor reserves the right to edit for brevity and legality. Published "I Say" submissions may also be featured on the WestEnder's website.

Courtesy of Westender

December 9, 2004

Elizabeth Hudson

Snow Bodies, one woman's life on the streets - Elizabeth Hudson

 

Email: wleng#missingpeople.net 

Missing Women Tip Line: 1-877-687-3377

Updated: August 21, 2016