Diderot Roc: Sharing the benefits of multiculturalism with offenders and colleagues


Let's Talk: Sharing the stories and voices of CSC
Diderot Roc standing in uniform

One of the ways Correctional Officer Diderot Roc promotes multiculturalism and respect among staff is through their taste buds.

The 2023 Emerson Douyon Multiculturalism Award recipient knows that sharing food is a fun way to share cultures, traditions, and different points of view.

“Diderot's been a great, positive role model for multiculturalism here at the institution,” said Pascale-Andrée Thibodeau, Warden at the Federal Training Centre in Laval, Quebec.

Multiculturalism at work

Diderot has promoted multiculturalism throughout his career and been a vocal advocate for both ethnocultural offenders and staff. He began working for CSC in 1999, at the Martineau Community Correctional Centre in Montreal, Quebec. He transferred to Leclerc Institution in 2001, then moved to the Federal Training Centre in 2013. Diderot was active with the Regional Committee for Employment Equity and Diversity at both institutions and is president of the training centre’s committee.

When it comes to multiculturalism—to understand the differences that come from elsewhere—I think that instead of it being seen as a problem, it's a privilege, it's a benefit, said Diderot.

Diderot posing with his Emerson Douyon Award for Multiculturalism alongside Pascale-Andrée
Warden Pascale-Andrée Thibodeau hands Diderot Roc his Emerson Douyon Multiculturalism Award.

When Pascale-Andrée began working at the Federal Training Centre in May 2022, she was aware that tensions had arisen between staff during the pandemic. Diderot was working closely with the parole officers, assessment interventions, and the case management team to find a way to ease things between colleagues. 

“I remember he came to see me and said, ‘I realized that in order to improve our work environment, it starts with us. We're the first people that are responsible for our own well-being while we're at work,” said Pascale-Andrée.  

Diderot’s suggestion was to revive the social committee that was paused during the pandemic. His suggestion worked. 

“We've worked hard to try to get things going again so that we could bring people together, to talk, and try to make the environment fun again,” Pascale-Andrée said.

Diversi-tea = diversity

As chair of the social committee at the training centre, Diderot promoted ethnocultural diversity among his colleagues. He helped organize fun social events like Diversi-thé (Diversi- tea), which introduced staff to different types of tea from regions around the world where employees come from or have cultural roots. The committee also regularly hosted a Dégustation multiculturelle (multicultural tasting), where employees brought their traditional food for staff to try in a social context. 

The biggest event that Diderot is involved in is the annual Haïti vous invite (Haiti Invites You). Every May 18, they host a Haitian dinner for all staff in celebration of Haitian Flag Day.  Diderot, his wife and family, and different employees from the Haitian community make all the food for the event.

“What I'm most proud of is sharing a little of my culture with the inmates, all the staff, but also being able to contribute to an event that brings people together,” said Diderot. 

Sometimes, it's the fear of the other that makes us a little apprehensive. But I think that when you participate, when you share, you get to know others. So, my main aim is to create a climate of fraternal conviviality between us all.

Pascale-Andrée agreed that food-related events are a good way to get to know others.

“It's really fun,” she said.  “You get to taste different foods and you get to meet people. You know, being a warden of an institution with about 500 staff, it's not always easy to know all of your staff. So, activities like this help us meet staff in a different setting.” 

Advocating for colleagues and offenders

Diderot further advocated for his fellow colleagues as an active member of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers from 2003 to 2018. He started as a grievance officer, then took on the roles of vice-president and president.

Diderot’s desire to help people is also apparent in his work with offenders. Throughout his career, he mentored and provided support to ethnocultural offenders to assist them along their correctional paths. He has also translated for offenders who speak Spanish or Creole. In addition, his involvement with the community and the cultural organization La Maison d'Haïti indirectly contributed to the social reintegration of ethnocultural offenders.

Diderot standing next to his son outside an institituion. Both are standing in uniform.
Father and son correctional officers, Randy is on the left and Diderot on the right.

Diderot’s son, Randy, is also a correctional officer. He works at Archambault Institution (medium security), in Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines. He talked about his father receiving the 2023 Emerson Douyon Multiculturalism Award. The award is presented annually to an employee, or community partner, for their significant contribution in promoting multiculturalism at CSC.

“I was really proud and happy for him because he has been doing this for 24 years, and he really commits to the job inside and outside,” said Randy. “He tries to make the work greater every day for employees and staff.”

Throughout Diderot’s career, the promotion of multiculturalism has been at the heart of his words and actions. This has had a positive impact on both staff and offenders.

His son summed it up when he said.

“Anything is possible if you put the work into it. He is making the way for other ethnicities to work and change the world by little steps.”  

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.

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