CSC is always exploring new types of partnerships and innovative solutions that can contribute to offenders’ rehabilitation and help them find and maintain employment in the community.
In 2019, Stony Mountain Institution, CORCAN and BUILD INC. (Building Urban Industries for Local Development) launched a partnership that continues to grow today.
BUILD INC. is an Indigenous-led, Winnipeg-based social enterprise. Its focus, which is similar to CORCAN’s, is to offer meaningful training and support services for individuals facing barriers to employment.
The engagement and collaboration between BUILD INC. and CSC contributed to BUILD winning the Spirit of Winnipeg Award 2020 in the Non-profit and Social Enterprise Category.
The partnership created a continuum that uses vocational training, temporary absences, work releases and on-the-job training to improve offenders’ employment prospects.
Offenders from the Indigenous Intervention Centre at Stony Mountain Institution (SMI) have the opportunity to participate in employment training via BUILD INC. projects once they complete an Introduction to Residential Construction program offered at SMI, as well as CORCAN employment assignments at SMI. The next step is to complete on-the-job training with CORCAN, after which they can be considered for the BUILD program.
CORCAN Construction Supervisor Noel MacKinnon says developing soft skills via this program and others is a key factor in an offender’s ability to maintain employment in the community.
“That is the real issue, if the soft skills are not developed, including interpersonal skills, showing up on time, and taking initiative. The individuals who attend BUILD INC. on work release blend right in, since we provide the hands-on training they would normally get in the community. This provides a continuum toward their reintegration,” MacKinnon says.
As they progress in their correctional plan and through this initiative, participants may be eligible for Escorted Temporary Absences (ETA) under CORCAN supervision.
Upon release to the community, the participants can apply to join BUILD’s employment program, which lasts from six to eight months. This provides them with additional training and work experience, and connects them with employers looking for skilled workers.
”This opportunity is very popular with offenders. There is a waiting list because people are interested and motivated,” MacKinnon adds. “The opportunity to have a full continuum from training in the institution to community work experience that also focuses on the participants’ needs contributes to their reintegration and ability to find regular employment.”
Going to a BUILD INC. worksite provides offenders with valuable work experience and vocational training. Currently, BUILD INC.’s largest client is Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation, located in the heart of Winnipeg. The projects include renovating and repairing newly vacated rental apartments and transforming them into ready-to-rent units. The opportunity to contribute to community housing initiatives is an added positive for the offenders.
MacKinnon says the work they do is challenging but rewarding for the offenders, because it gives them a chance to start and finish a project.
“It’s the quick turnaround, you walk into an apartment that may have a range of repairs needed and in four to six days, you can see the transformation to a place that is ready for move in. It provides a lot of challenges for the team and uses a wide range of skills to resolve, but it provides a sense of pride once it is complete.
“Everyone came together and worked together to make this happen. It’s been a real challenge and has been a lot of work to get everything in place, but I think it totally expands the focus of what we’ve been doing here at CORCAN, which is being able to provide more opportunities to find steady employment and reduce recidivism rates.”
Sean Hogan, A/Executive Director at BUILD INC, says the partnership with CORCAN has been a win-win.
“Working with CORCAN has been a game-changer. It is part of the solution for directly placing individuals into employment from incarceration without a waiting period based on our curriculum, giving a significantly higher chance of full integration into the community. The trainees and teams from CORCAN are a pleasure to work with, positive and engaged in making changes in their lives."
CORCAN and Stony Mountain Institution’s successful relationship with BUILD has led to other social enterprises in Manitoba seeking out opportunities to work with CSC on initiatives that are mutually beneficial, contribute to public safety, and provide employment skills and opportunities for offenders.