COVID-19 update for correctional employees: February 3, 2023
This content is a message to Correctional Service Canada (CSC) staff from CSC's Commissioner.
As the head of an organization dedicated to public safety, I believe it is important to address the tragic circumstances surrounding the death of Tyre Nichols. Mr. Nichols died after being brutally assaulted by law enforcement in the United States. This tragedy is highly disturbing and heartbreaking. It has spurred rallies and stimulated important discussions about:
- humane treatment
- racial inequality, and
- injustices that continue to take place in our communities, and around the world
Upon release of the video last weekend, I was troubled by the excessive use of force and lack of humanity in how Mr. Nichols was treated. At CSC, we have an engagement and intervention model where, at times, use of force is required, but only as a last resort when other methods have proven unsuccessful. The first step is always to try to talk it through to de-escalate a situation. Mr. Nichols' case was a failure of that principle to:
- treat a person with respect
- engage in a peaceful resolution, and
- question whether such force was necessary (and to say stop, if required)
We are entrusted with the care and custody of other human beings and there is no greater responsibility. The way we conduct ourselves in every situation truly matters. We serve as role models. Remember, we all cooperate more when we are motivated by respect rather than fear.
I realize that the events surrounding the death of Tyre Nichols may have a significant impact on our staff, particularly those who are:
- Indigenous, or
I want to assure you that support services are available to assist anyone in need.
Please remember that:
- the Access the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available if you need support
Black History Month
February is Black History Month. Since 2008, Canada has celebrated the achievements and accomplishments of Canadians of African descent. Black Canadians have shaped our country since before confederation when American Revolution Loyalists settled in Canada and Black soldiers fought in the War of 1812.
Despite facing barriers of prejudice and discrimination, Black Canadians have made significant contributions in all aspects of our society:
which have shaped our communities and our country. Take time this week and throughout the month to learn about, and reflect on the experiences of Black Canadians. It is essential that we engage in self-reflection and meaningful dialogue and are mindful of the impact of our words and actions.
Get involved in events and engage with this year’s theme: Ours to tell.
- You can also join CSC’s Black Employee Network or take part in one of our Employment Equity and Diversity Committee events.
Productive conversations can lead to greater understanding and respect of one another.
I also encourage you to show your support by using the Black History Month virtual background for your MS Teams.
New Ombuds for Workplace Well-being Office
As I mentioned in my all-staff message earlier this week, CSC has launched a new Ombuds office that will provide an:
- safe space for staff to discuss workplace issues
John Tremble, who will take on the role of the Ombuds for Workplace Well-being, has spent a significant portion of his career in program areas related to workplace well-being and is an advocate for safe and healthy workplaces. I am confident that the Ombuds office will successfully support:
- respectful, and
- inclusive workplaces at CSC
For more information, I encourage you to check out:
Every February, we recognize and show appreciation for the important role psychologists play in our lives, both as researchers and practitioners. Psychologists support those at risk, through:
- the services they provide
- educating communities, and
- advocating for mental health services.
During this month, take the time to appreciate their everyday contributions to our workplace environment and their dedication to the development of informed practices and policies. It is important to acknowledge all the hard work CSC psychologists do, helping incarcerated populations and our communities.
Fit Life program in the structured intervention unit
I am proud of the innovative work that many of you are doing across the country. It shows your dedication and commitment to our mandate. One such example is CSC educator, Kwame Osei, who developed a physical fitness program for inmates in the structured intervention unit (SIU) at Millhaven Institution. His program, Fit Life, promotes the importance of healthy living, with a focus on education. Since it began in 2020, 91 students have gone through the program, and 11 have now graduated with their Ontario high school diploma. Kudos to Kwame and all staff involved in making this program a success!
Read about the successes of individuals in the Fit Life Program in Let’s Talk Express:
Kwame has developed a course syllabus that is available to anyone interested in getting this started at their site. You can contact Kevin MacInnes, Chief of Education for Ontario, for a copy.
I appreciate how you take pride in the work you do. I know that for many this is not just a job, it is a vocation. Please know that the work you do is important and appreciated.
Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence.
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