The Closing of the Prison
for Women in Kingston
July 6, 2000
"I think that being in a place like this [Okimaw Ochi Healing Lodge] is more conducive to working with your issues. When you are in a place like the Prison for Women, the only thing that you're really dealing with is right now-the anger around you, the emotions around you, the tension. You really don't have time to ever focus on what got you incarcerated." Adelle Breese Resident at Okimaw Ochi Healing Lodge, April 30, 2000
Today, nearly all of the approximately 350 federal women offenders in custody live in the five new facilities: Nova Institution for Women in Truro, Nova Scotia; Joliette Institution in Joliette, Quebec; Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener, Ontario; Edmonton Institution for Women in Edmonton, Alberta; and the Okimaw Ochi Healing Lodge, in Maple Creek, Saskatchewan. Women offenders in British Columbia are incarcerated at the provincial Burnaby Correctional Centre for Women, with whom CSC has an Exchange of Services Agreement.
A range of programs and services are available to these women. In the words of Nancy Stableforth, the Deputy Commissioner for Women, "CSC has designed an environment which, on the one hand, respects the rights and dignity of offenders, and on the other hand, holds them accountable for their actions."
Core programs offered at the new institutions for women include the following:
Most of the 350 federal women offenders now live in regional facilities such as this one, located in Truro, Nova Scotia.
- Living Skills
- This group of programs (Cognitive Skills, Parenting Skills, Anger Management, Leisure Education and Community Reintegration) is similar in scope to those for male offenders, but has been modified to meet the needs of women.
- Literacy and Continuous Learning
- These programs provide literacy and education to enhance the employment and personal needs of women.
- Substance Abuse
- These programs were developed specifically for women as the reasons and consequences of their substance abuse are somewhat different than those of men.
- Survivors of Abuse and Trauma
- This group of programs assists women offenders in dealing with and working through the violence that they have experienced, including childhood sexual abuse, sexual assault and partner abuse. Education and awareness programs, as well as more in-depth therapeutic and ongoing support programs are offered.
A range of other innovative programs and services are offered by individual institutions. They include multicultural, recreation and leisure, vocational and educational, peer support, and health programs and services.
CSC is also implementing a mother-child program. Its goal is to provide mechanisms that foster and promote stability and continuity for the child in its relationship with its mother. The best interests of the child, including his/her physical, emotional and spiritual well-being, is the primary consideration in decisions relating to participation in the mother-child program.
The Pawsitive Directions program is one of many new innovative programs offered to inmates.
In June 1996, Nova Institution for Women in Truro, Nova Scotia, started the Pawsitive Directions program. This program aims to instill higher self-esteem and a sense of responsibility in the inmates. The program also teaches them patience and new skills by training dogs chosen from local animal shelters to become suitable family pets or to meet specific needs of disabled individuals.
"I'm willing to make the change, and I look at it this way: it's not a step backward, it's a step forward. And that's how I have to look at it in order to get through it because I don't want to leave." Theresa Ann Glaremin, the last inmate to transfer out of Prison for Women (Citytv News, Toronto, May 3, 2000)