CEASE began as a community response to the impact of sexual exploitation activities in Edmonton’s core neighbourhoods — especially harassment by men cruising and soliciting.
As a result, community partners got together and created the Edmonton Prostitution Offender Program (“john school”) in 1996 (now called STOP: Sex Trade Offender Program). The fees paid by the offenders were diverted back to the community to support these strategies: heal the harm, build for the future and inspire positive social change.
The first program was held May 25, 1996, and a non-profit society, then called the Prostitution Awareness and Action Foundation of Edmonton (PAAFE) was created in 1997 to implement these strategies, and manage the fees.
In April of 2011, CEASE (Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation) replaced PAAFE as the organizations’ name. The name CEASE better reflects the purposes of the organization.
CEASE is still the governing body which coordinates the Sex Trade Offender Program and manages and disburses the funds generated by the Program fees.
Our grassroots beginnings
When PAAFE opened its doors in 1997, its roots extended back to early 1990’s when besieged inner city neighbourhoods formed Communities for Controlled Prostitution. The name shifted to Communities for Changing Prostitution as the group learned from survivors that “control” is not enough. After meeting agencies on the front line such as Edmonton City Centre Church Corporation (now E4C) and Catholic Social Services, concerned citizens became aware that the children and adults they saw standing on the corners and the needles and condoms they picked up were part of a bigger picture. Lurking in the shadows were drug dealers, pimps and sex trade buyers – the players whose appetites create and maintain sexual exploitation.
Resulting advocacy prompted City Hall to take several significant steps. The Edmonton City Police Chief and Police Commission declared 1992 the “year of the john”. In Boyle Street and McCauley neighbourhoods, several streets were limited to one-way travel as circling vehicles created up to six times the normal traffic volumes. Then Mayor Jan Reimer and Police Chief Doug McNally launched the Action Group on Prostitution and the Mayor’s Safer Cities Advisory Committee expanded to include Communities for Changing Prostitution. Kate Quinn, who represented the grassroots group, continued to serve on what was later renamed Safedmonton.
PAAFE, a not-for-profit organization, began a long term commitment to serving as a social catalyst expanding Edmonton’s capacity to respond to issues related to sexual exploitation, particularly as manifested in street prostitution. Rooted in the grassroots experience of concerned citizens, the non-profit organization strived to inspire community partners to work together to seek lasting solutions to the very real harm experienced by individuals and communities caught in the web of sexual exploitation and related criminal activity.