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Pathways to Healing: PCOP

October 1, 2019

The Elizabeth Fry Society (EFry) has many programs to help people involved with the legal system who want to have a better future. One of these programs is the Prison Community Outreach Program, also known as PCOP. The program works to support women, during and after incarceration, to work towards their goals to empower personal change. While working on these individual goals, EFry keeps a larger goal in mind, which is to help the women break the cycle of recidivism. Many women experience criminalization as a direct result of poverty and trauma; therefore, many of the programs that support the PCOP team are focused on addressing the core issues that led to being charged.

The case managers that work directly with the clients have noticed many positive effects on the clients. They have found that by engaging in services, the women find structure and guidance, as well as a listening ear, while incarcerated. In the long term, women gain independence through gaining stability, returning to employment and addressing their core issues that led to their criminalization. The program assists women in finding housing or housing programs to reduce the chances of them returning into homelessness. Having a stable residence reduces the chances of women returning into old lifestyles.

EFry relies on the generous contributions of donations to assist women to re-establish themselves in the community. The majority of donations go directly to supporting housing, and other basic needs for women and their families.

“It’s rewarding to see someone previously street and drug enmeshed make changes that stick.” – PCOP Case Manager


Employee Profile: Brock Haug

Brock Haug, thirty-three, has been with the Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary since September 2018 as a Case Manager for the Prison Community Outreach Program. His hobbies include DJ’ing, weightlifting, swimming, hiking and travelling. He has been to Ibiza, China and has an upcoming trip planned to Mexico. Perhaps it is this love of new experiences that led Brock to work for EFry. One of the primary reasons he enjoys working for the organization is because every day is a fresh day where no two days are ever the same. In addition, seeing the positive changes made in the lives of so many different women and youth furthers his dedication to his work. In the past, Brock ran a day program for adults with brain injuries, worked in community corrections, a federal hallway home and volunteered with the parole office. These past experiences resulted in Brock taking a position with EFry last year.

Brock’s work as a Case Manager involves working directly with the women of EFry at the Calgary Remand Centre. He also attends the Lethbridge Correctional Centre for provincially incarcerated women and provides support to women in the community after their release. His role is to provide solutions and resources that address core issues, such as housing, addiction and mental health. The support he provides is important, not only to the women, but also to Brock.

An example of Brock’s compassionate involvement with his clients is when he worked with a woman who could not read without the proper prescription for her glasses. In turn, Brock helper her obtain a new pair of glasses and the woman was able to read properly for the first time since her incarceration. Brock’s involvement with EFry has also taught him how to work effectively within an Indigenous framework. He has learned a lot about the pathways and processes that can be used as an important part of the journey to healing for someone involved with the justice system. He has also found inspiration in seeing people change their lives by committing to making a better future for themselves.

On a final note, Brock suggested to those considering working or volunteering with the Elizabeth Fry Society that they should, “Keep an open mind, every day is a learning experience.” As for the community of Calgary and potential donors, he mentioned, “This is the only organization in Calgary that provides the services we provide. We strive to see our women through difficult times that influence individual progress and everyone here is completely committed to the cause.”


Sage 12-Week Program

July 23, 2019

Now accepting women participants, 18+ years of age, for our Fall 2019 SAGE 12-week program. Please call to make an appointment to conduct an intake with Kachina. Please see the poster for details.

Program Information:

  • When: September 10th to November 29th, 2019.
  • What: Learn skills for life, express yourself with writing & photography, learn employment skills and connect with Indigenous culture.
  • Where: Sunalta Community Hall 1627, 10 Ave SW
  • How: To register talk to Kachina, Sage Coordinator to set up a time to meet at: 403 294 0737 ext. 246 | sage@elizabethfrycalgary.ca

The Mother I am Today

May 10, 2019

“I owe a big thanks to The Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary in helping me become the person I wanted to be and am currently,” Dovena said. “And to be the mother I am today.”

Dovena first came to the Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary in 2008, when her caseworker mentioned the organization. She participated in a program the organization hosted at the time, and over the next ten years, Dovena came into the office for food, toiletry items, or just to talk.

“I always felt safe and connected with the staff. They were always so kind to me and accepted me.” Dovena said.

Knowing that the Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary works in partnership with Calgary community agencies to provide safe, affordable housing for women, Dovena came to the organization seeking assistance in finding a place to call home after completing her sober living program. Shortly after she moved into her new home, she knew the next step in her journey was to enter the SAGE program.

The SAGE program is a 12-week program that provides a cultural foundation and supports women through experiential learning and expressive activities like photography. Participants are empowered and equipped with skills to help them on their path towards accessing training, education or employment.

“Through the program, I learnt that I am not very good in making eye contact with other people until I trust them,” Dovena said. “I am getting better at this. The program helped me become more self-assured, I did not give myself enough credit before and would always second guess myself.”

“I enjoyed coming in the morning seeing the staff member of the program and being able to talk with her about what was on my mind, before the program started for the day.”

At the SAGE program, she felt a connection with her fellow participants as well.

“We had some similarities which we could relate to with one another,” she mentioned.

“I have grown in my confidence and am comfortable enough with myself now to stick up for myself. Having the dedication to complete SAGE was a huge accomplishment,” she said.

Another great moment for Dovena occurred in February, when she gave birth to her son. Dovena does not currently have custody of her three other children, but she is in the process of changing this situation. Dovena’s eldest daughter, who is very protective of her youngest sibling, wishes to come home and live with her mother permanently. This may occur as soon as July. For her two other children, the process will take a bit longer, but she is grateful for a renewed connection with them. “They fear that I will not come back when I leave after visiting them, but they know that I am making a home for them and it is a matter of time we are all under one roof together,” Dovena said.

When asked what family means to her, Dovena says, “being together, showing love for each other and sharing time together.” She explained that she and her four siblings were all separated at a young age as their mother was unable to take care of them. So the sole essence of having a family together under one roof means a great deal to Dovena.

In September of 2019, Dovena will begin a new chapter in her journey of recovery and stability by going to back to school to upgrade some classes. Her ultimate goal is to become a social worker in addictions counselling.

“The Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary was a great support for me,” Dovena said. “If the staff didn’t have what I needed they would go to great lengths to find it. The resources they directed me to were priceless. They were my home away from home.”


Mental Health and Crime they are linked

May 6, 2019

There is a stigma associated to mental illness that causes one to become more isolated and further into their anxiety, depression or other disorders. It is not as simple as working through the issues or triggers like “relax, everything will work out in the end” when said, can cause further frustration for the individual. Without support, mental illness can take a toll causing negative consequences for actions that are often uncontrollable and end up redirecting life in an undesirable direction.

Due to self-harming myself and attempted suicide I have had to be admitted into two hospitals in the span of six months. There were safety concerns that I would attempt suicide again. While in the last hospital I had an altercation with another youth and was charged with assault with a deadly weapon at the age of 15 years old. I was put on probation for a year.

My relationship with my family is not the greatest so my Probation Officer suggested a mentor would perhaps be beneficial for me. With previous counselling I always felt judged and I would retract from their guidance. Saying YES to receiving a mentor was the best decision I made, as this has been the most supported I have ever felt!

My mentor is my rock supporting me emotionally, mentally & physically – no matter the mood I am in. The conversations I have with them has really opened my mind to understand different perspectives and learning what different decisions I could be making to better a situation. I do not take my mentor for granted with the wisdom they share. I have noticed that I make more informed decisions and am making serious changes in my life for the better.

The support I am receiving from my mentor has enabled me to actually be more confident in public areas. I used to be removed from society and it was paralyzing to go out in public places. I even have been going to the gym which is a big deal for me, I would never want to touch the equipment others previously used.

Recently, I got into trouble with the law again. While at a store, I had a terrible episode resulting in me being charged with theft under $5,000.00. With my illness I have periods which render me incapable of controlling myself. With this incident I have been referred to another program which focuses on my mental health.

My mentor, my rock, has been with me at every court hearing and legal aid meeting pertaining to the recent charge. Never giving up on me and seeing me through this detour in my life.


SAGE Spring Program update

May 1, 2019

Written by Selwynne Hawkins

With five weeks remaining, the current SAGE cohort has now passed the halfway mark. And, since we last checked in, they have covered a lot of new ground.

The group spent a week on conflict resolution—where they focused on ways to communicate their opinions and needs clearly. This module included mock debates, role playing, and group problem-solving activities.

In their self-esteem week, participants created vision boards and reflected on the things they like most about themselves. They also spent time discussing their skills for employment, and visited Bow Valley College, where they were invited to attend an Elder panel on Good Medicine.

Three current participants—Jamie, Adrienne, Andrea—graciously agreed to share their experiences in the SAGE program.

“I’ve taken a few of these ‘job seeker’ programs, and I really think this one is a lot of help,” Andrea said.

“Especially with all of the activities we do,” Adrienne agreed. “Like what Stacey makes us do.”

Stacey, a local indigenous actress, leads four sessions with the SAGE participants throughout the program. With Stacey, the participants learn and gain confidence through experiential learning. During self-esteem week, she led role playing activities, which were a big hit with participants.

“Those are fun, too,” Andrea said. “Really makes us step out of our comfort zone.”

The SAGE program offers a balance of functional life skills, strategies to express emotions, within an Indigenous worldview including ceremony and cultural activities and processes. SAGE prepares women with the necessary skills that will not only assist them in their personal life, but within the context of successful employment experience. Through the wide-ranging activities, participants gain further confidence and strategies for developing their emotional well-being. So far, they have learned and improved their lives throughout their active participation in the program.

“Communications skills, problem solving,” Jamie recounted. “Resume writing.”

“It’s been a good review for a lot of stuff,” Andrea said. “I get really nervous for interviews, so we get a lot of practice. But what I like the most is the Indigenous part. Going to the sweat, the library for creation lodge…”

“Yeah,” Adrienne added. “And we’ve met so many Elders, too.”

In the coming weeks, they will spend time discussing healthy relationships and visit the YW Employment Resource Centre. They’ll also spend a week on professionalism, complete a cover letter workshop, and practice in mock interviews.

Near the end of the program, SAGE participants will spend a week at the Women in Need Society (WINS). Through a week of volunteering at the donation sorting centre, they’ll gain experience and learn about accountability. In their final week, they’ll focus on “next steps” for participants—making sure they’re ready for school, employment, or whatever goals they are focused upon. .

Though the program is only halfway completed participants have already grown more positive and self-assured.

“It’s built up my self-confidence a bit more, the exercises we’ve had to do,” Andrea said. “I really like it.”

“I used to be really shy before, and didn’t talk,” Jamie laughed. “Now I’m talking!”

Follow along on our blog and social media accounts for more updates on the group as they wrap up the 12-week program.

 

 


Pathways to Healing: SAGE

March 24, 2019

Written by: Selwynne Hawkins

The Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary’s SAGE Emotional Wellness and Employment Readiness program assists women on their journey to personal success. The program is built on Indigenous cultural values that provide support and healing; interactive and experiential learning provide participants with reconnection to their culture. The format of the program includes daily talking circles and ceremony that direct the processes of learning, and women are given ongoing opportunities to engage in various ceremonies and cultural activities. Elders, Knowledge Keepers, and Cultural Resource Persons support building cultural and traditional knowledge.

Each week, participants spend 23 hours with Kachina Raymond-McGillis, the SAGE Coordinator, learning both functional life skills and strategies to promote emotional wellness—including writing, art, and photography. Participants also engage in employment skills that better prepare them for their next steps after SAGE.

For SAGE participants, in-class learning runs in parallel with real-world experiences. The group visits Bow Valley College, where they learn about opportunities for further education. They also take a trip to the YW, where they are connected with the Employment Resource Centre. The final piece of the puzzle is a week-long job shadow where they volunteer as a group, gaining work experience and learning about accountability.

Over the course of the 12-week program, participants change and grow as they develop new skills—and new confidence.

“[The biggest change is] self-esteem,” Kachina said. “And having a clear plan for what they want to do with their futures.”

The average SAGE participant enters the program with a 9th grade education, which is a significant barrier for those seeking employment. After completing the SAGE program, most participants sign up for courses at Bow Valley College, where they can continue their educational journey and pursue the goals they have set for themselves.

The current SAGE cohort is made up of 15 women—the biggest group Kachina has ever supported—and they are currently in the fourth week of the program. They started with goal setting, then moved into communication, where they learned job interview skills, non-verbal communication cues, ways to give informative direction, and strategies for asking clear, direct questions. They have just finished their third week, where the focus is primarily on emotional expression.

Follow along on our blog and social media accounts for updates on the group as they move through the program.


Meet the Pugal family

February 26, 2019

Rowell, his wife Gem, and their children Jet and Jewel. They love the Calgary Zoo and Tuesday movie nights. They’re also big fans of good food—including local staple Big T’s BBQ.

In October 2011, Rowell moved from the Philippines to Canada in search of a better life for his family. He found work in Rimbey, Alberta, but was not able to apply for his permanent resident card, as he was classified as a low-skill worker. A couple years later, Rowell got a new job: Food Service Supervisor. After a year working in the new, skilled position, Rowell was eligible to apply for permanent residency.

In 2015, when Rowell submitted his application, he included his wife and both of their children. Jewel was only 10 years old at the time, but Jet was 19—making him too old to be considered Rowell’s dependent.

So in 2016, when Gem and Jewel joined Rowell in Canada, Jet was left behind in the Philippines.

The Pugal family searched for a way to bring Jet to Canada, but they were up against some sizeable obstacles.

“Besides the numerous misinformations and misdirections, we were faced with the problem of financial difficulty because some of the immigration advisers or consultants we [went] to exorbitant fees,” Rowell said. “And they [could] not even gave us an assurance that my son will be here.”

Armed with questions, Rowell and Gem attended an information session at the Centre for Newcomers. Nicolle, Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant and Immigration Legal Advocate for the Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary, was one of the speakers. After hearing part of their story during the Q&A portion of the evening, Nicolle approached the Pugals to discuss further.

“We felt very relieved and grateful when we had spoken to Ms. Nicolle because of her sincerity and her willingness to help,” Rowell said. “She gave us straight-forward answers. And not to mention, on top of that, EFry services are [free].”

As it turned out, Nicolle had good news for the Pugal family. She told them about a Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) proposal to change the age of eligible dependents from 18 to 22 years of age—which could make 19-year-old Jet eligible again.

Immigrant Legal Advocate Program

The Pugal family watched closely as the CIC—which had since been rebranded as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)—moved closer to raising the age limit. Rowell contacted Nicolle in the summer of 2017 when it became clear that the IRCC was going to
confirm the amendment.

“We communicated constantly, and she suggested that we should prepare all the necessary paperworks and all requirements so that when IRCC finally confirm[ed] the amendment, […] we immediately submit my son’s permanent resident application,” Rowell said.

The new maximum age of qualified dependents came into effect on October 24 th , 2017. Jet’s 22nd birthday—which would have made him ineligible again—was only 58 days later.

“The biggest challenge we had [was] timing,” Rowell said. “Ms. Nicolle ‘s suggestion to prepare all requirements and paperworks even before the new revision takes into effect, was very smart, effective, and timely, to say the least.”

Jet arrived in Calgary this December, just in time for his 23rd birthday.

“All of us are very happy, thankful, and [we feel] blessed that after eight loooong years [sic], we were finally able to celebrate my son’s birthday, Christmas, and New Year’s together as a complete family.”

The Pugal family, together at last, is now planning to apply for Canadian citizenship.

“We will be forever grateful to this organization,” Rowell said. “To Ms. Nicolle, and to all the staff, employees, volunteers, contributors, that [comprise] the EFry Society of Calgary.”

Follow this link to learn more about the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Program.