Volunteer Participation in the Correctional Service of Canada
Who are our Volunteers?
CSC's volunteers include:
Private Citizens: Thousands of citizens participate in programs and activities for offenders. These activities and services include tutoring, literacy training, visiting programs, social and recreational activities, multi-cultural activities, substance abuse programming and many others. Many of these people are occasional volunteers, while approximately 3,000 provide on-going services. Volunteers come from all walks of life and include military personnel, students, home-makers, trades-people, teachers, accountants, nurses and retirees.
Aboriginal Communities: Many offender reintegration initiatives involve members of our Aboriginal communities. Services provided by Aboriginal communities include awareness of native culture, traditions and spirituality as well as providing advice to offenders, CSC staff and members of the National Parole Board. Members of the Aboriginal communities are also involved in visiting programs, social and recreational activities and other programs and services offered to offenders.
Faith-Based Communities: Prison ministry is the work of the whole faith community. These programs enlist the resources of faith communities in helping the successful reintegration of offenders through spiritual healing. The Community Chaplaincy concept is a community-based ministry that links offenders and their families with community resources. These projects represent the efforts of the faith communities and Churches to develop a true partnership with the Correctional Service of Canada in ensuring the safe reintegration of offenders to our communities. Community Chaplaincies undertake a wide variety of activities with a variety of clientele. Some of the activities include counselling, group work, drop-in services, individual support, worship, advocacy, community education and institutional work. Clientele include offenders in custody and on release, spouses (legal or common law), families as a whole, the community and the victims of crime.
Volunteer training is an important form of community education. Volunteers can assume leadership in the activities of the chaplaincy whereby they are able to build alliances in the communities from which they come.
Restorative Justice Initiatives: Under these initiatives, community members and offenders work together to raise awareness about restorative justice and how it can help make our neighbourhoods safer. A goal of this project is to integrate offenders into the community as positively as possible. A belief in the principles of restorative justice requires that we work to reduce the risks to the community by committing ourselves to the service of every offender. These initiatives work towards finding ways to hold those who have offended responsible for their actions, while at the same time allowing the voices of the victims of the offences to guide us in responding to their needs and concerns. It is essential that community integration be done in consultation with all affected groups. Persons involved in this project are seeking to provide support for those who have been harmed physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Citizens' Advisory Committees(CACs:) CACs are the links between the CSC, offenders and communities and perform three main functions. The first of these functions is to act as advisors on the operation of correctional facilities and their impacts on communities. CACs also act as independent observers of the day-to-day operations of CSC and evaluate and monitor the provision of adequate care, supervision and programs for offenders in accordance to stated values and legislation. This function includes acting as independent community observers during institutional crises. The third function of CACs is to act as a liaison between communities and CSC. CACs educate the public about CSC, address concerns and build support for the correctional process, as well as provide CSC management with a community perspective on institutional and policy decisions.
National Volunteer Association (NVA): In November of 2001, the Solicitor General of Canada announced the formation of the National Volunteer Association (NVA) in response to the Government's pledge to build local solutions to problems faced in our communities. The purpose of this organization is to provide a voice for the volunteers across the country as well as acknowledge and assist those who volunteer within the federal correctional system. Their main objectives are to:
"The National Volunteer Association is the voice that represents all volunteers as valuable citizens dedicated to actively assisting offenders' reintegration. Building on each volunteer's individual strengths we build bridges to the community as essential partners in the Correctional Service of Canada."
National Volunteer Association
- Represent all CSC volunteers on a national level
- Acknowledge Volunteers' contributions
- Enhance Volunteers' and CSC's abilities to ensure volunteers are an integral part of CSC's reintegration process
- Develop and maintain dialogue amongst volunteers, staff and partner organizations
- Promote professional development, sharing of information, training and best practices with the volunteers
- Create a networking structure and a support system for volunteers
- Engage more citizens to volunteer
- Promote volunteer contributions, both in the institution and community.
Board of Directors:
The NVA Board establishes the purpose, mission, values and policies for this association. Since the NVA Board belongs to the volunteers; it therefore necessitates a grass-roots approach.
Membership for the Board ideally is made up of a representative cross-section of volunteers and consists of a minimum of two volunteers from each region, ideally representing both institutions and community.
In addition, CSC is represented by regional volunteer coordinators as well as National Headquarters (NHQ) staff.
The Board is co-chaired by one volunteer member, ideally elected from among themselves, and a representative from the NHQ sector responsible for the NVA.