2021 Betty Urquhart award winner: PEARL offers network of support to women seeking to leave prostitution 

Joan Goosen believes that everyone deserves the chance to live a life of dignity. And she knows that when a woman wants to leave a life on the streets and/or as a sex-trade worker, it can be very difficult.

So she helped found an organization, PEARL (which stands for prostituted women exiting and renewing life), to help women who want to make that transition.

For her dedication to the cause of helping sexually exploited girls and women, Joan is the 2021 recipient of the Betty Urquhart Community Service Award at the University of the Fraser Valley.

Joan, a clinical counsellor, leads a team of dedicated individuals and volunteers seeking to facilitate the wellbeing of sexually exploited girls and women in Chilliwack.

PEARL is a non-profit registered Canadian charity that helps women who are sexually exploited, trafficked, or working in the sex trade gain hope and renewal. In 2017, PEARL opened a drop-in resource centre in downtown Chilliwack. The centre provides a safe and caring environment where women have the ability to access a hot shower, warm or take-out lunches, clothing, and laundry. They can also obtain assistance to access legal support, medical care, recovery and housing services, and have the opportunity to attend life skills workshops and classes at the centre.

PEARL has been raising funds for a second-stage restoration home, where six women will be able to live rent-free for two years to heal and prepare for a life outside of the sex trade. The residents will have access to specialized services, such as trauma counseling, job-readiness skills, addictions recovery, and holistic care.

“Joan has worked hard to ensure that sexually exploited women in the community have support and services, along with hope for their future,” said Craig Toews, VP External at UFV and head of the Betty Urquhart award selection committee. “Her belief is that every woman has intrinsic worth, and this is visible in her work. Her dedication to helping vulnerable women experiencing homelessness, sex trade work, sexual exploitation, and addiction has provided hope and help to so many. Her contribution has made a profound difference within the community and in the lives of these women.”

Joan says she felt compelled to reach out and support women who want to leave the sex trade, out of a desire to share love and hope inspired by her faith, and that she’s humbled and grateful to be recognized for her dedication and service. For more information about PEARL visit: www.pearlliferenewal.com

The Betty Urquhart Community Service award 

Betty Urquhart was one of the first employees of the university and believed strongly in volunteering and giving back to the community. While Betty passed away in 1995, UFV keeps her memory alive by honouring a person exemplifying her commitment to lifelong learning and community. This award is part of UFV’s commitment to changing lives and building community. 

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