By Ami Powell
This month, in observation of December 17th – International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers, The ArQuives would like to highlight a generous donation from Monica Forrester. Monica herself is a living archive. She is a Two-Spirit trans woman, a community activist, a sex worker, and an important piece of Toronto’s LGBTQ2+ history. Monica has an ongoing and intensive life of advocacy work in Toronto. She is the Executive Director and founder of Trans Pride Toronto. She formerly worked at the 519, where she contributed to Trans Programming and was the outreach worker for the Trans Sex Worker Outreach Programme. She is currently the program coordinator of the Aboriginal Sex Workers Education and Outreach Project at Maggie’s: The Toronto Sex Workers Action Project.
Monica’s collection not only contains activist and community organization materials she has contributed to, but also content that illustrates a rich personal story. The activist artifacts include copies of interesting zines, copies of speeches she’s given, and multiple newspaper and magazine articles she has been featured in. These materials highlight the incredible amount of activism she has contributed to Toronto, especially within the numerous and overlapping intersections of her identities as a trans woman of colour and a sex worker. In addition to this important collection of activist work, her donation also tells a unique story through personal documents- including her journals, poems, photos, and postcards from friends.
Her donation adds a unique personal narrative to The Archives, providing rich context to stories that can sometimes be overshadowed by mainstream narratives of loss – trans women of colour and sex workers are disproportionately subject to violence. In the Sex Worker’s Resilience and Resistance zine, she writes, “I credit my survival to the women, men, trans sex workers that I’ve met, worked with, lived with and call family.” Monica’s work adds crucial stories of strength and determination alongside these themes of loss, giving voices to many who have been silenced. Monica’s collection is only the beginning of the archive of her notable role in Toronto’s LGBTQ2+ history, a role to which she is still contributing her incredible activism and experience.
This generous donation has not yet been processed, but is available at The ArQuives to researchers upon request.