Diversity in the CSC workplace

The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) ensures that its workforce reflects the Canadian population. A diverse workforce is more than just a great idea; it encourages staff to share their unique life experiences. It also supports learning about the different perspectives of others. It allows us to harness the full potential of our employees.

A diverse and inclusive workplace

CSC has a variety of initiatives that recognize the importance of adopting culturally relevant approaches that benefit our work environment. They help create and maintain inclusive workplaces that value the strengths of all employees:

I think it is hard for members of the mainstream culture to understand the disadvantages faced by minority groups when it comes to hiring practices. All else being equal, people tend to hire people that look like them, and right away that puts someone who looks like me at a disadvantage.

The Aboriginal labour force is young and is growing rapidly in Canada. We, as Aboriginals, have much talent and skills to offer.

When an able-bodied person walks into an interview, they go straight to their Resume, but when I wheel in, the first thing they see is my wheelchair and that puts me at a significant disadvantage.

When I was a kid, my parents told me I could be anything I wanted. So I became a correctional officer. I work in a federal maximum security penitentiary for men with some of the most dangerous inmates in the country. I'm not sure it's what my parents had in mind, but I love my job. I feel like women are conquering a new frontier here at CSC.

I think we are doing pretty well. I look around at work and I see a lot of visible minorities and people with disabilities, so I think overall we are doing a good job when it comes to diversity in the workplace.

As compelling as anecdotal evidence might appear, it is not an accurate measure of actual numbers. To get a clear picture of employment equity numbers across all regions and among all groups, analysts have compiled a series of workforce availability charts. These detailed charts allow us to drill down and see gaps, not just in regions, but in occupational groups within regions.

Ensuring equity in the workplace isn't just a great idea. It's the law.

There are three pieces of legislation that govern hiring practises in the public service.

The first is the Employment Equity Act.

This piece of legislation was designed to ensure that four designated groups of people do not experience disadvantages in the workplace, and that they are represented at levels comparable to those in society as a whole.

These four groups of people are:

The second piece of legislation is the Canadian Human Rights Act, which makes it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of several additional grounds such as: race, religion, age, marital status, sexual orientation and others.

As a hiring manager, you might be thinking: I want to do the right thing, I want to hire people from the four designated groups, but how do I do it?

In this video we are going to show you some of the tools you can use as a hiring manager to achieve the goals of employment equity and diversity.

"Nobody wants to feel that they are being treated differently from everyone else. Everyone just wants to belong."

The truth is that from the point of view of anyone from any of these four groups, not only do they feel different, but studies have shown that they sometimes feel they are treated differently in a negative way. That may explain why they don't like to self-identify: not because they fear being treated differently in a positive way, but in a negative way. They fear they will be discriminated against.

That's where the final piece of legislation comes in. The Public Service Employment Act is a piece of legislation that actually gives us flexibility in how we go about hiring people from the four designated groups.

It does this in three ways:

Every job opening in your unit is an opportunity to hire someone from the four designated groups.

Before beginning any staffing action, take the time to consult with your Human Resources advisor and Regional Employment Equity Coordinators.

Their role is to assist you in making CSC a diverse and inclusive workplace.

One of the things that really concern me is that some people are being given jobs without having the necessary skill-sets.

The fact is that candidates must always meet all of the Essential Qualifications and any other merit criteria that has been identified for the specific appointment.

They don't have to be the highest-ranking candidate, but they must be able to do the job.

The integrity of the skills required for a certain position is never compromised in this process.

Well, you look at the numbers CSC is very well positioned. There might be other organizations out there that need to increase their Employment Diversity, but we are on the right path.

Our numbers are a good starting point, but they certainly are not the ceiling for EE targets. Even though we are doing relatively well, we need to continue to build a diverse workforce to ensure we have an inclusive work environment well into the future.

Creating a diverse workforce is a great idea. It encourages innovation through sharing different perspectives, and allows us to embrace the full range of human experience.

It is also the law. Several pieces of legislation exist to ensure that we do the right thing and implement hiring practices that result in a workforce that reflects the diversity in the world around us.

And even though it is the law, there are many benefits to creating a diverse workforce, not the least of which is that it will help us develop new approaches to servicing an ever-diverse offender population.

CSC needs representation from the four designated groups in all regions and at all levels of the organization to assist us in achieving our objectives.

The first step in that journey begins with you. As a manager the onus is on you to ensure employment equity and diversity in your workplace.

Every job opening is an opportunity for you to close the equity gap and make Correctional Service Canada one of the most interesting and dynamic places to work.


Related links

Indigenous role models

CSC is the federal government's second largest employer of people who are:

Indigenous people develop correctional plans and deliver programs that combine modern correctional ideology with Indigenous:

The Indigenous Role Models Initiative highlights the contributions of Indigenous staff by talking about their experiences. They highlight employees from Inuit, Métis and First Nations backgrounds. You will get to read about their work in many of our key positions.

Peter Desjarlais

"I like to think that we are able to reach offenders with holistic health messages to help guide their life inside and outside of the institution."
: Peter Desjarlais

Peter Desjarlais is a National Aboriginal Health Coordinator at National Headquarters (NHQ). Peter shares knowledge and cultural understanding with inmates daily. He works hard to address health issues, needs and priorities of Indigenous inmates.

Peter is of Métis ancestry and belongs to the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan. He is originally from Regina, Saskatchewan but moved to Ottawa. He believes his ancestry has had a profound impact on where he is today.

According to Peter: "My ancestry has everything to do with my career choices. I have always been interested in justice. Growing up in the Prairies I saw firsthand the disproportionate number of Indigenous people who were struggling for the basic necessities of life."

Peter has always wanted to help people in whatever capacity he can, which is what inspired him to:

He works closely with key stakeholders like Elders and regional health service coordinators. These relationships provide advice from those with front line experience.

Peter believes that a relationship with the Elders is a key aspect in the rehabilitation of Indigenous inmates. He claims his proudest moments at CSC are while working with Elders:

"They are such an integral part of the work we do. Having the opportunity to speak with them and learn from them is something you don't normally get to do in other professions. I'm always truly humbled by their holistic approach to life. They demonstrate the importance of healing, rehabilitation and education of our Indigenous people through their teachings and lifestyle."

Of the many unique aspects of his job, Peter's favourite thing about working at CSC is seeing his co-workers go beyond the basic requirements of their job. "When you work with people who are passionate about what they do, it makes you want to push yourself more. You respect them and their contributions to your work."

Looking forward, Peter plans to:

Jerome Simon Bear

"If we can help one or two out of ten offenders understand their culture to improve their lives through healing, this affects the public greatly as they become contributing members of their community and eventually become role models to youth in the community."
: Jerome Simon Bear

Jerome Bear is an Aboriginal Liaison Officer at Springhill Institution. He liaises between staff, Indigenous inmates and the outside community. With guidance from Elders, Jerome is proud he:

Jerome was born and raised on the Tobique (Negootkook) First Nation Reserve in New Brunswick as part of a Maliseet Community of 1,800 people. His spirit name is Kinsecket-Muwin (Gin-Sack-ed Moo-win) means bear who stands tall/proud.

He is thankful for the opportunity to work with Elders in Institutions and the community. They have so much to offer by way of teachings, knowledge and culture. "Continually learning from them is probably my favourite aspect of the job. It allows me to assist my brothers [Indigenous inmates] in learning their culture and to grab onto their own healing journey," he said.

Jerome's proudest career moment was receiving the Bridging the Gap Award. The award recognized his work with CSC's Internal Communications Advisory Committee.

Currently he works with a committee to develop a staff sweat site at Springhill Institution where CSC staff can also experience the important ceremony.

Jerome is also a recognized leader in his community. To name a few of his accomplishments, he is or has been:

Throughout his career, Jerome has made a commitment to helping Indigenous inmates in their healing journey. He can see himself doing this long after retirement from CSC:

"I am quite content in the position that I have. I wish to come back and offer Elder services to inmates after retirement, whether in the institutions or in the community. I've made the commitment to carry the knowledge and cultural teachings of my people so that I can offer them to future generations."

Julie Dion

"I have always been proud of what I have accomplished throughout my career. I have always given the best of myself."
: Julie Dion

Julie Dion is a Correctional Manager at Donnaconna and Drummondville Institutions. She is proud to be a member of a team of CSC employees working together to provide a safe and secure working environment for offenders.

Julie is a Wendat woman from the Wendake reserve in Quebec City. In 1986, she applied for a job as a correctional officer after CSC published a notice in her Aboriginal community to recruit new employees. "The factor that had the greatest influence on me choosing a career at CSC is the wide variety of jobs and occupations available," she says. Julie was able to take advantage of these opportunities. Her knowledge of Indigenous culture enabled her to work previously with Indigenous inmates as a liaison officer.

Julie is also the local chair of the Employment Equity and Diversity Committee (EEDC). She understands the importance of a strong and diverse workforce. For her, working in an environment where her colleagues are accepting and value the differences of others is what motivates her.

In 27 years at CSC, it is not the difficult situations that have surprised Julie. Rather, all her colleagues have personal accountability towards society:

"We face tremendous challenges on a daily basis. Every day we come up against many different realities. We work together to improve ourselves and to ensure that the organization's objectives are met."

In the future, Julie would like to continue to grow in her career at CSC. That people appreciate her work daily encourages her to continue along this path. Julie aspires to a management position, building on the experience she has acquired.

Mary Alainga

"The effect that my Aboriginal ancestry has had on my career was learning not to judge people as they make mistakes. We can only help lead inmates to a healthier lifestyle by communicating with them in an accepting way."
: Mary Alainga

Mary Alainga is an Inuit Community Liaison Officer with the Ottawa Parole Office. She helps Inuit offenders get to know their new city. For example, she offers information and assistance to offenders who are looking for Inuit services and resources, like the:

Feeling connected to the Inuit community in Ottawa helps offenders make progress in their correctional plan. It speeds up their return to their home communities.

Mary is from Iqaluit, Nunavut. Growing up, she spoke Inuktitut at home and English was her second language. Her father inspired her to seek a career at CSC. He worked with territorial corrections, as a lands manager at the Baffin Correctional Centre in Iqaluit. "When I was younger I was inspired by seeing Inuit men return home to their families to be whole again," she says. Mary did not know of any Inuit correctional workers working with Inuit offenders in the south. She thought that would be a worthwhile occupation.

Watching CSC staff interacting with and learning from Inuit inmates has been one of the most pleasant surprises of her career so far. Seeing her colleagues make the effort to understand the ways of Inuit culture and their practices motivates her. "When staff understands the culture, they are able to treat Inuit inmates in a more sensitive way," she comments.

Working with Nunavut, Nunatsiavut, and Nunavik Justice Committees and health clinics is particularly gratifying to Mary. Between Inuit offenders in Ottawa and their families up north, Mary:

She finds this beneficial to the rehabilitation of offenders. It helps strengthen their personal relationships with their families. "I believe that a family member seeing a loved one who has been incarcerated eases their worry and allows both the family, and inmate to move forward."

Mary plans to continue her work with Inuit offenders. She even hopes to:

Employment equity and diversity committees

The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) ensures its facilities function in an inclusive way that values the merits and strengths of all its employees. As a result, CSC established employment equity and diversity committees in all six regions: Pacific, Prairies, Ontario, National Headquarters, Quebec and Atlantic.

Volunteers make up these committees. CSC encourages all employees to:

Stories of diversity in the workplace

CSC challenged employees to join the diversity conversation. The premise is simple: find your place, share your story. Thousands of unique individuals with compelling stories and experiences work at CSC.

These stories form part of our identity and become part of the culture of our organization. They will give you more insight into what it is like to work at CSC.

Craig Farrish

I have worked in the detector dog program for nearly 11 years. Aside from the diversity of amazing dogs (all shades of Labs, Spaniels, Retrievers and the occasional Duck Toller), I have been exposed to a plethora of diversity in both inmates and visitors to our institutions.

The first story occurred about nine years ago when I first deployed to Bath Institution as their dog handler. I was conducting routine cell searches with my partner Ben, who retired five years ago. Upon completion of the cells, I was sitting in the unit office completing paper work and chatting with other officers. An inmate entered the office absolutely livid. He accused me of breaking several tubes of his lip stick and mascara. The inmate was further outraged when I began laughing as I thought it was a joke set up by the other officers. Until this moment I had never met a transgender person, let alone an inmate with gender identity issues.

I soon learned that Bath had three such inmates. I was quickly labelled by these inmates as anti gay. I met with the offender who alleged I had damaged his make-up. I apologized for my seemingly immature response. I then took the time to chat with him and committed that I would do my utmost to retain a professional level of empathy for the significant and specific issues surrounding his, and the other offenders with similar needs. These included various amendments to searching protocol with them, but more importantly we developed a meaningful professional relationship. Without going into details, upon a voluntary transfer this inmate spoke to my then supervisor and stated that I had become one of his favourite officers! I have shared my knowledge and tact toward individuals with gender identity issues with other staff in hopes it will assist them in dealing with these offenders, as well as others in our community.

Since becoming a dog handler, I have had to learn and then modify my searching techniques to respect certain religious requirements. This carries over to all religions, but I am going to discuss Islam specifically.

Back when I first started this job, I had several run-ins with Muslim inmates and visitors who were lodging complaints against me and my four-legged partner. Concerned about the frequency of these complaints, I spoke with an Imam, as well as a friend of mine who is a Muslim. They explained to me that when dog saliva and dog dander gets on religious items, such as prayer mats, holy books or other prayer clothes, that these items may not be used in further prayer.

I immediately altered my searching practices. I had to balance the searching requirements, with the specific needs of the inmates and visitors. In searching cells I always explained to Muslim inmates that the dog would be in their room, and would encourage them to take, or move all religious items to a spot where the dog would not contaminate them. Prior to the items either leaving, or being moved, I would ensure they were searched, thereby adhering to security practices, but also respecting the sanctity of the item.

When dealing with visitors, I obtained a large window screen. I would have the visitors who were Muslim hold the screen in front of them while the dog searched them. This allowed the dog to smell the visitor, allowing his search, but also respected their need to remain clean of any contaminant from my partner. Upon implementing these practices these complaints ceased.

Again, I have shared these practices and suggestions with other handlers, other staff and with members of the community. I embrace the diversity I encounter with my role at the Correctional Service of Canada and constantly strive to learn about all our specific groups, to not only to make me a better officer, but to make me a better person.

CJ Bryant

When I was born, my parents named me Connie and I was the second daughter. Today, my name is Conner and I have become my parent's first son. I am transgender and currently undergoing gender reassignment while working as a Primary Worker at Grand Valley Institution for Women (GVI).

I began my career with the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC), November 2005, at the age of 24, working as a Primary Worker at Edmonton Institution for Women. At that time in my career, I was openly identified as a "lesbian". It was in 2006 that I began to re-explore being transgendered, what that meant to me and did I fit into it? It made sense to me, but I was afraid. I wanted to appear male to people as that is how I felt on the inside. In saying that, I wanted to take testosterone and have surgeries. I wanted to go the whole way to appear the way I have always felt.

I was thinking primarily about my career before I decided to proceed with anything. I had many questions and thoughts:

In 2006, I began with surgery. I began with chest reconstruction, but that is where it ended for quite some time. To be honest, I was afraid to let people really know that I was transgender. I was unsure about how I would be treated at work.

How many people can say they love their job? Well, I am one of those people. I love my job! If I was to feel less about my job because of discrimination or peoples' ignorance towards my gender reassignment, it would devastate me. I did not want to risk it. I was not confident that I would receive the support. I was not confident it would have been a positive environment for me to transition openly in. I may have been hyper-sensitive at the time, but with good reason. I felt self- conscious, unsure of what was going on inside of me and again, I love my job.

In 2008, I transferred institutions from Edmonton Institution for Women to Grand Valley Institution for Women in Ontario. In 2010, I decided that this was the place to continue my gender reassignment openly and felt confident that I would be supported. I was wary that there may be a few people that I may have a problem with, but I felt that I would receive at least 80% support.

I began by speaking to a union representative. I discussed my situation with her and asked if there was anything management could do to me for wanting to transition on the job. After the discussion I felt confident that I could let it out. In July 2010, I met with a member of management and explained that I was transgendered. I explained that I was planning to go forward with gender reassignment and what that would look like at work, and how my job duties would change. I was certainly expecting a little twinge of shock, but that is not at all what I received. I received openness, acceptance and surety that I would be okay. A sigh of relief came over me at the end of that meeting: for a moment. After the meeting, I was relieved like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, but then I remembered that I worked with about 120 other people. How was I going to tackle that?

It was the very next day, July 8, 2010 when I received an e-mail from the Warden stating:

Hi CJ,

Best wishes for your transition. I expect things will go smoothly at GVI and you should find a supportive atmosphere. It's a big step and I can only imagine the amount of thought that has gone into it… If there is anything I can do to facilitate things, please let me know. More critically, if you experience any difficulties from staff, I need to know and help you deal with that - though I wouldn't expect problems.

All the best,


I took him up on his offer and I decided to just let it out for everyone to know. After all, it was not something I was ashamed of. I was definitely unsure of reactions I would receive, but not ashamed.

Through the Warden I sent an e-mail to ALL staff at Grand Valley Institution for Women. This is what was written on July 23, 2010:

Following is a message from Primary Worker CJ Bryant. I'd like to thank CJ for his openness and am confident he will feel supported by all of us through this transition:

Hello Everyone,

I want to advise everyone of a personal journey I am beginning. This information is going out to ensure everything goes smoothly. I am currently undergoing gender reassignment as I am transgender. What this means is that I am receiving hormone replacement therapy (testosterone). So what you will notice is my voice gets lower, my body structure changing and the obvious facial hair. I am open about this journey it is not something that I am ashamed of.

Please, if you have any questions please feel free to ask and I will do my best to answer them.



I was absolutely nervous after this e-mail went out. I was not sure what people would say or how they would respond. I was amazed at the support I received. People were asking questions, which I was more than happy to answer because I figured that I'd rather they ask what they are thinking than talk behind my back.

This is a sample of some emails I received:

The support was overwhelming and still is! With all of the support and encouragement I received I was thinking to myself that I should have done it earlier, but I am a firm believer that things happen when and where they were meant to. This was my time and place.

I am currently 18 months into my gender reassignment. I have never felt better about myself as a person or as a Primary Worker at the Correctional Service of Canada. I feel indebted to my fellow Primary Workers for allowing me to feel safe and secure in being me, and to management for their support and encouragement. CSC is not only a great place for accepting diversity, it is encouraging and supportive!

I jumped in with both feet hoping they would land firmly onto the ground. I jumped in and both my feet are firmly planted on the ground. I will not go anywhere. I am here. I am confident. I am proud. I am courageous. I am transgender. I am me.

Page details

Date modified: