The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its mission statement this year! Since 1989, our mission has been the foundation of the important work CSC does every day. We are proud of the service accomplished to contribute to public safety and help offenders become law-abiding citizens.
This year, we are also celebrating the people who carry out this mission in our institutions, in the community, and at regional and national headquarters. We asked CSC staff from across the country what the mission means to them and their work.
For many, the mission statement has a particular significance that resonates in every single action or decision they make on a daily basis.
Leah Bouthillier is a Parole Officer in Sudbury, Ontario. Like many community parole officers, she sometimes travels long distances to connect with offenders in her caseload, their family members, partner organizations, and services that offenders need once they are on release.
“The mission is a mantra that guides my everyday work,” she says. “It outlines what my job stands for, what the ultimate goal is and how important my part is to play in protecting Canadians, while assisting and supporting offenders on my caseload in making changes in their lives.”
After 22 years at CSC in a variety of roles, Valerie Gow – currently the Aboriginal Intervention Centre coordinator at Edmonton Institution for Women – says she feels privileged to carry out CSC’s mission.
“The mission statement captures who we are as an organization and guides the nature of the work we strive to do everyday,” she explains.
Reg Amyotte, Correctional Officer at Kwikwexwelhp Healing Village, adds: “The public does not often get a good look of what it is to be working within these walls. The mission lets them know our true intentions.”
According to Jeremy Butterworth, Correctional Manager at Drumheller Institution, “the mission represents the broad ideals we have as Canadians as to how we expect this aspect of the criminal justice system to operate, to treat offenders and the priority of preparing them to rejoin society.”
The mission also helps staff to stay focused, especially when facing challenges.
“We are not machines,” says Dale Tuck, Manager Assessment and Intervention at Edmonton Institution for Women. “We do a job that is emotionally hard and the mission recognizes that human factor.”
For many staff, the mission reminds them of their role in helping offenders meaningfully change their lives while ensuring their custody is managed in a humane way.
Kailee Dumond, Manager, Assessment and Interventions at Stony Mountain Institution, explains: “We serve Canadians by promoting change in human behaviour, fostering motivation, and assisting people with building the necessary skills for safe and lasting reintegration into our community.”
Elder Dan Ross works at Millhaven Institution. For 18 years at CSC, he has been dedicated to helping Indigenous offenders make changes happen by getting to the root of the issues that brought them to prison.
“My role in making a safer future for all is to help women and men heal their past and work on the present,” he says.
During her 22 years at CSC, Elizabeth Drocholl has worked at almost every institution in Pacific Region. She is now serving as an Aboriginal Correctional Program Officer at Pacific Institution, and says that treating offenders in a humane and non-judgmental way is a priority, even if it’s challenging sometimes.
“I have to put aside my own biases to assist them,” she explains. “It’s the best way to help them integrate into the community by encouraging them to respond in the same manner.”
Although he never imagined working in corrections, Denis Bernatchez, Nursing Orderly at the Federal Training Centre in Laval, says he feels the difference he makes for inmates.
“I tell them that taking care of yourself is self-respect,” he recounts. “It really has a positive impact on them and everyone in the institution and it gives them good habits for their release.”
Denis is also very proud to teach offenders on methods of mobilization for those with reduced mobility, and good life habits in general.
“We give them an education and a model they never had,” he says. “This can change your life when you’re 22.”
Beyond the positive impact this work can have on offenders, carrying out the mission brings CSC staff together as a team to change people’s lives.
“Seeing a former inmate in his fourth year of Indigenous law is a major accomplishment not only for me but for the entire team,” says Elder Dan Ross.
Reflecting on his 28 years at CSC, Reg adds: “One thing shows through wherever I worked, the staff will do whatever it takes to keep each other safe. We have the most professional people working in the criminal justice system and I am proud to be part of that team.”
When asked about CSC’s accomplishments in light of the mission, many stress the organization’s efforts to recognize and respond to the needs of various offender populations.
For Elizabeth, the implementation of healing lodges and Aboriginal Healing Centres has been critical.
“It acknowledges the effects of the social history of Indigenous Peoples,” she says. “It’s a way of working toward reconciling these wrongs and try to have a positive impact for this generation and the next ones.”
Leah emphasizes the policy changes in women’s corrections and Indigenous corrections, and Kailee stresses CSC’s corporate priorities on the mental health needs of offenders. In Laval, Denis is very proud of the quality of care that offenders with special health needs receive. Overall, Dan adds, “we see the difference in the people that the program was designed for.”
As CSC’s historian, looking back over the 30 years since the mission was created, Dave St-Onge emphasizes the mission’s role in helping CSC face challenges and move ahead: “In such an extremely difficult business, the mission statement communicates the most positive way to work and holds all of us accountable to Canadians.”