Faces of CSC: Marilyn Sheldon

Let's Talk: Sharing the STORIES and VOICES of Correctional Service Canada

Faces of CSC: Marilyn Sheldon

March 28, 2024

“Diversity in the workplace encourages me to become a better woman, more understanding, more educated, more empowered because others can teach me new/different ways of learning and doing.”

Marilyn has worked at CSC for 36 years, both as a correctional and parole officer. She realized she needed a university degree to be a parole officer. So, while her three children were still young, she went to Queens University full time and earned a degree in sociology.

Marilyn didn’t get a job as a parole officer right away, though. In 1988, Marilyn started as a correctional officer at the provincially run Metro East Detention Centre in Toronto. She moved back to her home city of Kingston to work with CSC in 1990. She worked as a correctional officer at the Regional Treatment Centre inside Kingston Penitentiary, the Prison for Women, and Bath Institution.

Marilyn joined the frontline staff at Collins Bay Institution in 2018. She worked as a parole officer in various assignments at Joyceville, the Regional Treatment Centre, and Collins Bay.

Marilyn Sheldon Correctional Officer II, Collins Bay Institution, Ontario Region
Marilyn Sheldon
Correctional Officer II, Collins Bay Institution, Ontario Region

Although she accepted a permanent position as a parole officer at Collins Bay, she preferred working as a correctional officer instead.

“One of my proudest achievements whilst working in CSC was travelling internationally to Trinidad and then to Holland with the travel coordinator to repatriate Canadian citizens by transporting them back to Canada to finish their sentences here. It was so interesting for me to meet Embassy Officials and learn from their perspectives.”

Marilyn said treating everyone with respect and dignity is absolutely imperative to what she does.

“I try to ‘talk the talk and walk the walk,’ as trite as that sounds. Being firm, fair, and consistent isn’t just CSC jargon, it’s what you should do, in my opinion. It has worked for me in my daily and work life. Being honest and having integrity is part of one’s character,” said Marilyn. “Being forthright, being able to apologize to anyone/everyone whom you have wronged simply or seriously is important to do.”

Marilyn has seen things change for women in corrections.

“Being a woman was always difficult to move forward,” said Marilyn. “Let me say that determination and not stubbornness has propelled me to succeed. I was taught to never give up. And this has served me well. I no longer see naked women hanging on the wall in the penitentiary and/or offenders’ cells. This was part of the male-dominated milieu inside penitentiaries.”

With all her lived experience, Marilyn has sage advice for young women thinking about a career in corrections.

“Become educated. Be yourself. Be dignified and respectful toward all people, no matter where they’re from, what they look like, what gender they are, or what religious and or traditional values they follow. Don’t lose yourself by following the crowd. Learn the Commissioner’s Directives. They are important. They are legal laws for how the service is guided. They are not guidelines. Following Commissioner’s Directives are not only helpful but are required to do the job. You must know them.”

Marilyn is not hanging up her uniform and retiring yet.

“I’m not ready to make every day Sunday. I think what we do is important,” she said. “I always felt I’m performing a valuable, worthwhile service. Offenders can change and do. If I have been a small part of that positive change, then I feel that my working life has contributed to it. How we treat members of our society is a measure our society itself.”

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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