2014 Taylor Award Recipient

Ontario

Carol Finlay

Carol Finlay - Ontario Region 2014 Taylor Award Nominee

Ontario Region 2014 Taylor Award Nominee

Carol Finlay is the founder and director of Book Clubs for Inmates (BCFI), a charity inaugurated in 2009 to operate book clubs in federal institutions across Canada. She liked the sense of community in a book club and believed that they would provide support and encouragement to incarcerated men and women.

Carol now works tirelessly, guided by a volunteer Board of Directors, to build and strengthen the network of institutional book clubs. As a direct result of her hard work and dedication, BCFI has now established 17 book clubs in 14 institutions and two Community Residential facilities, touching thousands of lives every year. Carol works with the book clubs to develop reading lists focused on literary fiction, biography, and classic works, and liaises with book providers like First Book Canada to arrange for the delivery of books to institutions. She has also set up a scholarship program for offenders who wish to take university courses while incarcerated. Carol’s persistence, commitment and personal charisma have allowed her to build enduring relationships with CSC staff, volunteers, and donors across Canada.

Carol has also helped establish support circles for men and women recently released from a federal institution. These circles offer friendship and support for basic life skills such as finding employment and housing.

2014 Taylor Award Regional Nominees

Pacific

Gerrit and Connie Dejong

Gerrit and Connie Dejong - Pacific Region 2014 Taylor Award Nominees
Pacific Region 2014 Taylor Award Nominees

Gerrit and Connie Dejong have been volunteering with CSC’s Chaplaincy program for over 18 years. They recognized the need to create a positive connection with offenders and became involved with CSC through M2W2 Restorative Christian Ministries. While it was Gerrit and Connie’s compassion and faith that led them to their work with offenders at CSC, they feel that they are the ones who have been blessed. They volunteer because they want to show offenders that there is a better way of life and have made a difference by forming relationships based on mutual trust and respect.

Gerrit and Connie’s dedication has impacted the lives of many offenders and with their unwavering support, these relationships have continued in the community. They travel extensively to maintain these connections and keep in touch with the offenders they have worked with. Gerrit and Connie can be described as warm, friendly, professional and above all else – genuine. Their commitment has been an inspiration to many other volunteers and has made a difference in the lives of staff, offenders and their families while ensuring public safety results for Canadians.

Prairies

Lois Thomas

Lois Thomas - Prairie Region 2014 Taylor Award Nominee
Prairie Region 2014 Taylor Award Nominee

Lois Thomas has been nominated posthumously by Edmonton Institution for Women (EIFW) for her energetic service as a liaison between female offenders and the community of Edmonton from 1995 until her passing in 2014.

Lois began volunteering as a member of the Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) and eventually became the Chairperson. When her tenure was completed Lois wished to remain active within the institution so she joined with other former members of the CAC to establish a visiting group. These women soon became affectionately known as EIFW’s “Golden Girls”. Each week, Lois and her “girls” faithfully visited incarcerated women in the Secure Unit, the Aboriginal Healing House and the Structured Living Unit. Lois supported the reintegration of women in the community and provided many non-security escorts over the years. She was also an active member of both the Program Advisory Board and the Peer Support Advisory Committee. Lois was also very involved in recruiting and interviewing community citizens for various volunteer programs at EIFW.

Lois believed passionately in Restorative Justice and was a regular presence at EIFW since it opened its doors. Throughout her twenty years of volunteer service, Lois was an inspiration to staff, offenders and community volunteers. Her presence in the courtyard was uplifting and calming to others and she always had a smile on her face. Her energy, warmth and insight will be remembered for years to come.

Quebec

Lise Lauzon

Lise Lauzon - Quebec Region 2014 Taylor Award Nominee
Quebec Region 2014 Taylor Award Nominee

A social worker by profession, Lise Lauzon has been involved as a volunteer at the Correctional Service of Canada since 2000, at the Archambault Institution and the Regional Mental Health Centre (RMHC). Lise is also a volunteer at Corporation Jean-Paul Morin, working on restorative justice projects. Lise believes that human relations are key. She has very strong listening skills, but can hold lively discussions when needed. Her vast life experience has greatly benefited the people with whom she has worked, especially the inmates at the RMHC. Being incarcerated is in itself a difficult experience; having a mental health condition as well only increases the person’s suffering and vulnerability. Lise’s simple and straightforward manner provides the critical link between life in society and life in an institution.

Atlantic

Ernest (Ernie) Leblanc

Ernest (Ernie) Leblanc - Atlantic Region 2014 Taylor Award Nominee
Atlantic Region 2014 Taylor Award Nominee

Ernest (Ernie) LeBlanc has been involved with helping offenders for over 30 years, inside CSC institutions as well as in the community. Ernie’s path to volunteering is an interesting one as his dedication to helping offenders stems from his own experience as an ex-offender. He is what is known in the correctional world as a ‘lifer’.

Ernie started his mission of helping other offenders while he was incarcerated. Upon his release under full parole in 1984, he immediately started volunteering with CSC and other organizations working in the field of corrections.

Between 1984 and 1990, he volunteered with organizations such as Committee Chaplaincy, the Full Business Men Fellowship, the Bridge of Canada Fellowship, as well as the Seven Step Foundation.

For the next ten years, between 1990 and 2000, Ernie offered his time and talents to the John Howard Society, speaking in churches, schools, colleges, youth centers, provincial correctional facilities and county jails. During these speaking engagements, he shared his life experiences and presented himself as an example of successful rehabilitation.

In 2000, he started working for Lifeline, a program that helped rehabilitate offenders while ensuring public safety. Although the Lifeline program was terminated in 2012, Ernie continues to volunteer his time providing support for offenders serving life sentences, helping with community reintegration and offenders released on parole.