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Resistance Is Asian Heritage

As Asian Heritage Month ends and Butterfly’s tenth anniversary approaches, we remind our community that resistance is Asian heritage. Migrant massage and sex workers are among the Asian diaspora’s rich histories of resisting oppression. Our most vulnerable community members, who are mostly women, continue to battle a racist, whorephobic system and society. Their fight is our fight, and it represents the true spirit of Asian Heritage Month.


Butterfly is proud of the strides our members made in the last year, from protesting Newmarket’s racist bylaw to achieving York University’s Safety and Wellness Ambassador certification. Enduring persecution from law enforcement and white saviours threatening their livelihoods, workers fought for their right to choose their own paths. They demonstrated incredible resolve in the face of harassment, financial distress, and threats of incarceration or deportation. This Asian Heritage Month, we celebrate our collective power and strength.


Yet, despite our wins, we cannot afford to relax. Right now, the City of Toronto is in the early stages of again reviewing body rub parlour and holistic practitioner bylaws. We are not sure what this will mean for massage and sex workers, but at worst it could instate restrictions and regulations that marginalize and endanger them, especially undocumented or non-English-speaking people. We will remain vigilant and fight again just like we did in 2019 when 300 workers fought to be heard in City Hall the last time they looked to “rescue” us with harmful by-laws. 

Even though May is ending, Asian resistance endures — today, tomorrow, and always. We continue mobilizing massage workers as they exercise agency and defend their rights; we continue the fight for a fair system and status for all, working alongside other racialized migrants and allies because we can’t win this fight alone. We have big plans for 2024, and we are going to make sure the City listens to workers as it conducts its bylaw review. Please sign and share our petition against anti-trafficking organizations if you haven’t already, and stay tuned for our next rallying cry.

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