Interview with Sylvie-Ann Lavigne
Thousands of Canadians volunteer their time, energy, and passion with the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) to help offenders become law-abiding citizens. Their work inside CSC’s institutions and in the community is one of the many supports that help offenders rehabilitate and safely transition from incarceration to reintegration.
When the Jamieson Community Correctional Centre (CCC) opened in August 2017, there were plans to grow a vegetable and flower garden on site. By the spring of 2018, the gardening project officially began as a collaboration between the CCC’s manager and CORCAN’s Employment and Employability Program.
On February 21, 2018, the Regional Mental Health Centre (RMHC) opened its doors to community partners. Located in the Quebec Region, the RMHC is a multi-level security facility for male inmates who have various mental health needs.
For the last three years, the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) has been developing a Digital Education Project (DEP) to support technological advancements in learning environments behind prison walls. CSC has been working hard to include technology in the classroom to provide better access to learning opportunities and competency in technological environments and support reintegration success.
To contribute to the overall effort against COVID-19, a project to manufacture cloth face masks was implemented at Archambault Institution (Minimum), in Quebec. As a result, over 2,000 masks were produced in a few weeks. The experience gave offenders the opportunity to gain new skills and give back to the community. Consequently, 300 masks were donated to two community organizations working with homeless people in the area.
Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge (OOHL) is a federal correctional facility in Nekaneet, Saskatchewan that houses women offenders. At the site, offenders are given opportunities to learn new skills that contribute to their ability to find and maintain employment after release. CORCAN offers a variety of construction related vocational and on-the-job training as part of the Indigenous Offender Employment Initiative.
As a team, the Prairie Region chiefs of education and teachers recognize that they are fortunate to have the ability to work from home. Teachers have continued to be busy during this time by building teaching resources, participating in professional development, and updating curriculum tools for the students.
Building structures and skills – How employees at CSC are helping offenders become employable upon their release
In September we had the pleasure of sharing a story about the Piapot modular build, an initiative that gave offenders at Saskatchewan Penitentiary the opportunity to give back t
When Eva Goldthorp put an orange paper heart in her living room window in Chilliwack, British Columbia, she had no idea that hundreds of orange hearts would soon hang in windows across Canada.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Marilyn Stone, Saskatchewan Penitentiary Librarian, along with volunteers from the community, wanted to find a way to help the staff and inmate population at Saskatchewan Penitentiary stay safe. They decided making masks was a contribution they could give in the fight against this virus.
A group of correctional officers from Edmonton Institution (EI) established a workplace fundraising committee in response to the needs of families whose loved ones perished or were injured in the line of duty as correctional officers. Even though this cause was the drive behind their initial efforts, the EI Relief Fund has contributed to a variety of charitable organizations and causes since its inception. The EI Relief Fund fundraises through a variety of ways including receiving donations, activities such as BBQs and 50/50 draws.
In the fall of 2019, CORCAN instructor Mark Charleson delivered a construction course to eight residents at Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge. The course taught residents basic construction skills, such as planning, gathering materials, measuring, cutting and building. The residents divided into two groups to put into practice what they had learned. Each group was tasked with building a shed.
In 2015, the Government of Canada introduced the Veterans Hiring Act, amending the Public Service of Canada staffing system to provide employment opportunities for Veterans. This mandated the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) and other departments to focus hiring initiatives on Veterans.
In recent weeks, residents at Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge (OOHL) made 25 quilted baby blankets to give back to the community. The Star Blankets will be donated to parents who have, unfortunately, lost their newborns during either the birthing process or post-natal. The OOHL residents were compelled to make this offering as they themselves are mothers, Aunties, Kokums (grandmothers) and they understand the importance of children amongst Indigenous culture.
One morning during the summer of 2019, Dawne Flaborea received an unusual phone call. A North Atlantic right whale had died, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans wanted to bury it on the property of one of the Correctional Service of Canada’s CSC east coast institutions.
“Education is the new Buffalo." This statement by guest speaker Dr. Pat Makokis, during an outreach event at the Edmonton Institution for Women (EIFW), struck a chord with Dr. Tracy Bear. The idea that education can provide First Nation and Métis people with food, clothing, and shelter as the buffalo once did was inspiring. So were the inmate testimonials she heard at the 2017 event.
Veterans’ House is a 40-bed facility that was opened by the Multifaith Housing Initiative in Ottawa in February 2021. As outlined on the organization’s website, this is the first community house built for homeless veterans and the pioneering project specifically targets the needs of the rising number of homeless veterans who are "living rough" in Ottawa.
In 2018, the CORCAN employment and employability program started a beekeeping initiative as part of the re-opening of the penitentiary farms at Collins Bay and Joyceville Institutions.
Danny Bruno’s Lakeland College experience inspires him to make a difference every day. As a carpentry instructor for The Indigenous Offender Employment Project at the Pê Sâkâstêw Centre, a minimum-security correctional facility, in Mâskwâcîs, Alta. (90 kilometres south of Edmonton), Bruno is equipping ‘adult learners’ with usable skills to transition from incarceration to the working world.
On September 28, 2020—a picturesque, crisp autumn day— Kwìkwèxwelhp Healing Village in Harrison Mills, British Columbia, witnessed an historic ceremonial raising of the flags.
Every fall, since 1981, William Head on Stage (WHoS) has been attracting audiences of up to 2,500 over 15 nights.
Research from the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) shows that there is a connection between positive family relationships and lower rates of recidivism. This is at the heart of the Canadian Families and Corrections Network (CFCN), which focuses on families who have someone that they care about inside.
Michael K. Olotu, Director General, Rights, Redress and Resolution, has worn many hats at the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC). Starting off as a Correctional Officer and then a Parole Officer, Michael has gone on to serve in senior level roles at NHQ including, Senior Director of Operations with CORCAN, Director of Evaluation, Director of Investigations and Director of Strategy and Corporate Services in what is now known as the Indigenous Initiatives Directorate.
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.