COVID-19 update for correctional employees: July 9, 2021
This content is a message to Correctional Service Canada (CSC) staff from CSC's Commissioner.
In recent weeks, we have seen some exceptionally hot days in much of western Canada, which has resulted in wildfires in British Columbia and western Alberta. I would like to acknowledge the CSC employees who are part of the Federal Working Group with Public Safety Canada to support provincial emergency response teams when there are:
- floods, and
- other natural disasters
It is inspiring to know some of our staff volunteer to help during these events. My thoughts are also with those in affected areas.
Thank you to the staff who continue to go into our facilities during these record warm temperatures and for ensuring that everyone stays safe and hydrated.
Visits resuming in institutions
There have been zero inmate cases of COVID-19 for several weeks now. Thank you to those who organized vaccine clinics. We have vaccinated over 76% of inmates with at least one dose and over 68% have received two doses. I also appreciate your ongoing efforts to keep up with our infection prevention and control measures in order to prevent any new outbreaks.
Given the increasing vaccination rates across the country, we have begun to resume inmate visits gradually across our institutions, with health and safety measures in place. Visitors are required to:
- wear a mask
- wash/sanitize their hands before entry, and
- practice physical distancing at all times
I would like to extend an extra thank you to our staff for keeping up with these cleaning practices.
Correctional programming will resume in many institutions and Elders and chaplains have started returning to the sites to offer support. Citizen advisory committee members, lawyers and contractors are also starting to return for in-person work. We are keeping our website up-to-date, which includes a list of sites currently open for visits.
Today, July 9, is Nunavut Day, which commemorates the day in 1993 when Parliament passed the Nunavut Act. This Act, along with the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, granted the Inuit of the Eastern Arctic their own territory of Nunavut and divided the Northwest Territories in two. On April 1, 1999, Nunavut became a legally distinct territory. The territory now celebrates the day as a holiday. Happy Nunavut Day to all Nunavummiut!
World Population Day
Every July 1, World Population Day raises awareness of global population issues, from family planning, gender equality, and environmental impacts to human rights concerns. It is certainly food for thought that on July 11, 1987, the world’s population reached an estimated five billion. In the 34 years since, the population has increased to 7.9 billion people. It is fascinating to note that it took over two million years for the world's population to reach one billion, and only 200 more years to reach today’s global population!
William Head on Stage celebrates 40 years
William Head on Stage (WHoS), the only inmate-run theatrical production group based out of one of our institutions, has been performing plays and attracting local community audiences at William Head Institution since 1981. CSC is very proud of this inmate-run initiative. The productions incorporate the diverse:
- ethnic backgrounds
- cultures, and
- languages of the men involved
They create a sense of belonging for the inmates who take part. Not to mention, they attract thousands of people in the local area, who stay after the presentation to talk with the production company, which creates a vital link between the community and the institution.
While WHoS had to cancel their shows in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic, they were able to turn their talents to a different medium, creating a podcast called the Dark Traveller. Released on June 2, 2021, it is the first public podcast created by inmates in Canada. It was also broadcast by the local CFUV radio station. Congratulations to those involved!
You can access the podcast here:
Thank you to all the William Head Institution staff who support the inmates involved in this incredible initiative. CSC is also grateful to the volunteers from the SNAFU Society of Unexpected Spectacles.
You can read more about this initiative and community partnership on Let’s Talk Express:
I mentioned last week that we have stood up an Administrative Workplace Review Committee to provide options and recommendations to CSC's Executive Committee (EXCOM) on the future of our workplace. The first meeting took place last week with representatives from every regional headquarters as well as all sectors at National Headquarters.
We are waiting for guidance from the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) on a gradual and managed approach for increasing occupancy in federal workplaces. To ensure that capacity limits are respected, we ask that employees first talk to their manager if they require access to their building. All employees are required to follow federal public health and safety measures such as wearing a non-medical mask and practicing physical distancing onsite.
We will share more information as it becomes available.
Canada’s 30th Governor General
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced on Tuesday that on his recommendation, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has approved the appointment of Mary Simon as the next Governor General of Canada. Ms. Simon is an Inuk leader who has been a tireless advocate for Inuit rights and culture, and the rights of all Indigenous peoples. She is making history as the first Indigenous person in this country to take on the role.
Poem for volunteers
Despite changes brought on by the pandemic, CSC volunteers have found ways to continue connecting with offenders and offering them support in our institutions. In honour of National Volunteer Week 2021, an inmate at Matsqui Institution penned a heartfelt poem for volunteers entitled “Community”. Staff and inmates worked together to send each Matsqui volunteer a package that included a copy of the poem and seeds to grow poppies. Kudos to those who worked so hard to put all this together! It was a thoughtful way to show appreciation for volunteers.
When a community comes together;
With a little hard work and good weather.
It is the only place I know;
Where we can eat the vegetables and watch the flowers grow.
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