Reflecting on Adele’s legacy

Let's TalkRead our stories > Reflecting on Adele's legacy

Reflecting on Adele's legacy

October 27, 2023

An illustration with two hands reaching for one another, with the text, “Lift Me Up, Changing Lives. Protecting Canadians.” On the right-hand side in a bubble is a photo of a woman’s head.

Adele MacInnis-Meagher did everything at CSC from teaching cooking to leading the Atlantic region. She showed continuous dedication to CSC’s mission throughout her 30-year career.

Adele started her career with Correctional Service Canada in 1991 shortly after she finished her studies in occupational therapy. She began in Saskatoon, a city she knew little about. But her husband – soon to be husband at the time – was moving to study in Saskatchewan, so Adele knew she wanted a job close by. 

During an interview with a Saskatoon hospital, the interviewer asked Adele if she had applied to corrections’ regional psychiatric centre. Adele had never heard of it but thought she’d give it a try. After finding a number in the Saskatoon phone book, they asked if the facility hired occupational therapists. The answer was yes, and the centre ended up interviewing her over the phone and hiring her on the spot.

“I wanted to try it out and see where it would lead me,” Adele said. “It was an amazing decision.”

Occupational therapy for inmates

Occupational therapists generally work in hospitals, often with patients who have mobility struggles following an injury or stroke. The therapists help patients relearn tasks, like eating, and help them develop strategies for tasks which could be difficult, like tying shoelaces.

In a prison, occupational therapists bring value but in 1991, there were only a few working for CSC. On her first day at the penitentiary, Adele said she remembered thinking, “I’m going to be good at this.”

Adele worked with her teammates to better the lives of offenders. “It’s about teaching life skills,” Adele explained. “I did cooking classes with offenders, anger management classes, and communication.”

The goal was to build skills to assist offenders’ rehabilitation journeys. The skills would help them reintegrate as community members following their time in the care of CSC.

“One of the neat things I was able to do in my career was build a group home within that unit for those who were likely going to live in a group setting on release,” said Adele. “They would have a good opportunity to learn all the skills that they would need to live harmoniously and responsibly within that group home setting.”

The programs led by therapists also had an impact on the lives of those with severe mental illness.

“For individuals who were disorganized and had profound diagnoses, we would do a craft class or minor woodworking to help them focus.” Adele explained that many activities helped the care team evaluate whether the treatment given to an individual was having a positive impact.

In a simpler sense, the feeling of success can be hugely impactful in a person’s sense of self.

“Sometimes we undervalue that sense of satisfaction people get from learning. When I look back on the kinds of things that I did with the inmates at that time, that was a lot of the value,” she said.

Making an impact beyond occupational therapy 

Adele is proud to have made that impact. She cared deeply about the offenders she worked with and knew her impact would be felt beyond them in their families and communities. Adele managed and directed programs at the Regional Psychiatric Centre before moving to a management role at the regional headquarters.   

“I always felt that way every day. I knew we were making a difference,” Adele said. “That's why I always felt a great sense of purpose.”

After working in reintegration with the regional headquarters for the Prairies, she moved to Nova institution for Women in Truro, N.S. “It was a wonderful match with my degree,” Adele said. She worked in a secure unit as the leader of the structured living environment which she approached with the mindset of a healthcare professional.

Adele continued her exemplary service and advanced through the ranks of leadership. She became the warden of the institution—a role usually filled by those who worked as correctional officers. According to her colleagues, Adele was a champion for the offenders over her eight years as warden at Nova Institution. There, she approached the institution’s management with the same healthcare focus and compassion she brought to work as a young occupational therapist.

Therese LeBlanc, who worked as Regional Deputy Commissioner before Adele, has known Adele for over two decades.

“Adele is a tremendous leader,” said Therese. “She gets people to become their best selves. She has the gift to motivate and inspire people.

Moving into leadership

Adele moved into multiple management positions both at CSC and in public safety. She was a director of public safety for Atlantic Canada, the warden for Springhill Institution for men, and retired as the Acting Regional Deputy Commissioner for CSC’s Atlantic Region.

Over her 30-year career with the organization, she witnessed large-scale changes to CSC. Adele is proud of the way CSC has approached issues like transgender inmates, systemic racism, and human rights through reflection and commitment to improvement.

Adele MacInnis-Meagher
Adele MacInnis-Meagher did everything at CSC from teaching cooking to leading the Atlantic region.

“She’s a champion for underrepresented populations,” said Therese who praised Adele’s work particularly with women offenders.

Adele said that accountability is one of the most important aspects to CSC improving as an organization. “Our ability to measure our progress really led to an increase in accountability,” she said. “When you have accountability, and you're working hard to match that, that really gives a sense of pride and rigour that's required in this very serious business.”

As an experienced leader and teacher, Adele was dedicated to ensuring new generations of correctional officers had the opportunity to learn about corrections. Adele and Therese were instrumental in setting up university programs in criminology in Atlantic Canada.

“Adele was always willing to teach a course and come talk to the students,” said Therese who worked to liaise between the University of Moncton and CSC.

Lorne Breen worked with Adele while she was a warden and acting regional deputy commissioner in Atlantic Canada. He also retired this year from his role as Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Correctional Operations, Atlantic Region.

“Adele had a sage understanding of corrections,” Lorne said. He marveled at Adele’s calmness and leadership in the stressful situations brought about in correctional work.

“Her ability to treat people with profound respect was one of her greatest attributes.”

Therese echoed these thoughts with compliments to Adele’s ability to navigate difficult situations.

“You could always count on Adele to do the right thing the right way,” she said.

Adele was recognized by the Governor General for exemplary service in corrections with a medal in 2011. She retired in 2023 as Acting Regional Deputy Commissioner for Atlantic Canada.

Adele is spending her retirement on her farm in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

“I can’t believe how hard I’m working,’ said Adele, laughing about her lack of rest in retirement. She is busy working the farm, picking blueberries, and making jam and wine. She and her husband also decided to use the property for big events. They share their love of music with their community by hosting a huge music festival every summer.

Let's Talk

Let’s Talk is a publication of Correctional Service Canada (CSC). Let’s Talk shares stories new and old of the people and programs at CSC. These stories provide an engaging window into how CSC fulfills its mission of contributing to public safety and assisting in rehabilitation. Let’s Talk is your home for informative articles, podcasts, and videos about CSC.

Follow us

Connect online

icon FaceBook   icon LinkedIn   icon Twitter/X   icon YouTube

Correctional Service Canada logo
Canada logo

Page details

Date modified: