Helping Offenders Find Meaningful Employment
Larry Hicks, Employer: To me what the crime is, is not the important thing. People make very, very bad choices, but it's usually a bad choice at a time, it doesn't mean that is who they are, it's what they've done. And I believe a man, having spent his time in incarceration, deserves a chance. He's changed and he will become a member of society.
Michelle Power, Employer: So we were approached to hire an offender last summer actually, and I thought it was a great idea. I think everybody deserves a second chance.
Tim Honoeffer, Employer: Whether a person is black or white or a convict or a women or a man, it really doesn't matter and a lot of times that diversity is what makes a company strong.
Theresa, Vancouver, BC: Before I was in prison and I was on the streets, I didn't feel like I belonged in this world, and didn't see how I fit or contributed to the world in any way. I just was merely existing.
Weldon, Kelowna, BC: For the majority of my life I didn't feel part of society. There was a lot of hate and anger in the home that I grew up in.
Synthia, Kingston, ON: I never had a sense of belonging my whole life. When I got released at first, I still felt that separation, I didn't feel a part of.
Martin, Sherbrooke, QC: (subtitled) With a job we feel more like citizens. We feel more integrated into society. I mean, we also pay taxes. It's come to that. We feel less left out.
Gene, Waterloo, ON: Having this job has given me the opportunity to be a good parent, to be a good father, to be a good husband.
Bernie, St. John's, NL: Having a full-time job when I got released, for me, meant having a normal life. From going around and riding around in the car everyday and trying to steal for money, just don't cut it. You know, you can come home and actually have a job, and not have to look over your shoulder, it's legit.
Levante, Surrey, BC: Part of my offence was so that I could provide for my kids, it's absolutely necessary for me to have a trade, to have a well paying trade, a certification in something.
Jason, London, ON: The obstacles with having a criminal record is the employers won't hire you no matter what you've done. Some interviews went well, meaning that they didn't ask for a criminal background check. The ones that didn't go well, they asked right up front, if we had a criminal background and I would be truthful and say yes I've had a record. I'm out, and I am trying to leave that behind me, in the past, and just trying to be a better person, so I would like you to get to know me for who I am now.
Jeff, Peterborough, ON: It's hard to just kind of explain your whole life story when it's just a checkbox, yes or no, do you have a criminal record right?
Megan, Halifax, NS: My record does not define me, nor does it change how I act with my residence or the type of work I do. I just find too many employers look at criminal records like its all black and white, and they don't know every story behind the situation.
Theresa, Vancouver, BC: So one of the issues was that the only job I ever had was being a prostitute on the street, and I needed some employability skills.
Jean-René, Laval, QC: (Subtitles) When I began my sentence, I didn't even have my high school degree. I didn't even consider pursuing a career.
Theresa, Vancouver, BC: But I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go across the street, and gain employment skills as a power engineer, and I was given the option to take the schooling.
Bryan, Kingston, ON: And, well you see the electrical piping coming up, they're more of an industrial building then they are a home. So you see a lot more, just industrial material. Some of the positive things that I have accomplished through CSC with the support of staff has been through programming like the national substance abuse program or the violence prevention program, where they were very hands on with me, and helped me with my own personal issues that I had and that, and gave me many ideas on triggers and relapses and different things, and through schooling helped me gain my grade 12 diploma in less than three months.
Weldon, Kelowna, BC: When I started reconnecting with my aboriginal heritage I started going to sweats, I started carving and I started talking to the elders. It connected me with a real emphasis on positivity, as opposed to, you know, living in the problem; we started looking at the solution. Everybody's got problems, it's what you do with them.
Jean-René, Laval, QC: (Subtitles) I obtained my provincial high school degreeI admit that I have a bit of a long term learning disability. That is what hindered me in the past.But in prison I was allowed to progress at my own pace. So I did my course in two years instead of 15 months. But I was very successful at it. That has given me confidence in myself, first of all. I had a trade on the outside but not really. I owned a tattoo parlour. So this is giving me a trade that you can say is more honourable, more conventional, more normal. That gives me confidence for the future, that's for sure, because I've developed a passion for industrial design, to love what I do and to be proud of what I do. It has been a long time since I've been able to say that.
Levante, Surrey, BC: I think the CORCAN programs are great. Many guys, like myself, are super grateful for the programs that were available so that we can get an apprenticeship, a trade, a certification.
Jeff, Peterborough, ON: I took a carpentry course when I was inside, that's helped me get a couple of jobs that I've been doing right now. Also being able to do college courses while I was in there, the home inspection course, that got me in with another guy who does mould and he gets all his jobs from home inspections.
Bryan, Kingston, ON: My opportunity here at CORCAN has really helped me learn to build buildings and different things, different sizes, shapes, colours even, just and learn new trades as you go. It's a good program, and it helps a lot of different people. I know people that haven't had the opportunity to do these kinds of things and they leave here wanting to do it now, and it gives them a chance at a real job.
Michelle Power, Employer: My name is Michelle Power and I am the co-owner of Broadway on Preston. We've had three offenders, to date, work for us and one did not work out, two have, and one has really, really worked out for us and we're so happy to have him here.
Mike, Ottawa, ON: Having a full time job, to me, is very important, it keeps me busy, it keeps me focused on a goal, an objective, and I like the people I work with and I like the customers, the food here is great.
Matt Rose, Employment Coordinator: My name is Matt Rose I am an employment coordinator for Ottawa parole and essentially what I do is I help offenders when they are released into the community to secure employment.
Mike, Ottawa, ON: I met up with Matt and we talked about what my job interests would be. I explained to him that inside I was in the kitchen and I would like to continue that.
Michelle Power, Employer: When offenders are coming out, and coming here, for us, the ones that we've hired, I found they were ready to get to work. Mike being a prime example, he was in school to do his chef's papers, we worked around his schedule so he could continue doing that and that's only beneficial to us, but he was ready to work and work in an area that he obviously wants to work in because he is going to school to get his chef's papers. So he was prepared to come work in a restaurant and for us he already had a lot of knowledge already, because he has been in school taking classes all along.
Mike, Ottawa, ON: I feel very, very good. My self-esteem is up, as I said before, and I'm just, I am very positive now.
Theresa, Vancouver, BC: Today, I'm excited. I'm excited because I get to be a part of this community. I have a place and I have a purpose in this world.
Weldon, Kelowna, BC: My life is incredibly full today, as I mentioned before, I have an incredible group of friends and support group, family, connections in the community. Yeah, my life is great today.
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