Social Justice, Podcast, Urban Issues

Episode 87: Supporting Harm Reduction through Covid-19 — with Mebrat Beyene

November 06, 2020
Subscribe via:     Soundcloud   Apple Podcasts   Spotify   Google Podcasts   Podyssey   Youtube

Since the onset of the COVID-19, WISH Drop-In Centre Society has rapidly expanded its efforts to support street-based sex workers.

Am Johal is joined by executive director, Mebrat Beyene, to discuss how WISH and other Downtown Eastside service providers are collectively responding to the pandemic, which has restricted services and exacerbated many pre-existing crises facing the community. 

Mebrat speaks to new WISH initiatives, such as opening a new 24/7 shelter for sex workers, increasing access to bathrooms and showers, and finding new ways to accept donations of essential items. She also calls on policymakers at all levels to swiftly address access to emergency income relief for sex workers, to provide a safe supply of drugs, and to house people as quickly as possible.

About Our Guest

Mebrat Beyene

Mebrat is an Eritrean, born in Ethiopia and raised in Montreal.

She is a mother, community developer, teacher, and singer known for her passion, enthusiasm, and energy. As executive director of WISH and co-chair of Living in Community, Mebrat supports women and initiatives related to the health and safety of women engaged in street-based sex work. She has worked in social justice, and non-profit management and community development for over twenty years. Mebrat has worked closely with women and women-serving organizations as a Programs Officer with Status of Women Canada; and served as executive director of PeerNetBC. In a volunteer capacity, Mebrat sits on the boards of MATCH International Women’s Fund and Pivot Legal Society; serves on the City of Vancouver’s Black History Month Planning Committee, and also volunteers with the Vancouver Youth Choir. She lives in East Van, doing as much singing, adventuring and plotting with her son…much to their cat’s chagrin.



Johal, Am. “Supporting Harm Reduction through Covid-19 — with Mebrat Beyene.” Below the Radar, SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement. Podcast audio, November 6, 2020.


Stay Up to Date

Get the latest on upcoming events by subscribing to our newsletter below.