Beatrice Wallace-Littlechief still has trouble sleeping. She spent about 15 years on and off the streets of Edmonton and Vancouver, hustling and selling drugs, turning tricks only as a last resort.
She wound up addicted to drugs but got out (and cleaned up) more than a decade ago for the sake of her eight kids – she didn’t want them to be “another generation of lost souls.”
Now that the family is back together (the children had all been taken by social services), she has opened up about her past life: “This is my reality and the only reason I’m talking about it is because it has to stop.”
And yet a smell, a face, a voice or even the weather can act as a trigger. “The memories are always coming back. It’s gotten better. But it doesn’t go away.”
She now works as a program co-ordinator at an AIDS organization and is a member of the advisory team with Defend Dignity, an anti-exploitation group.