Chelsea Morrey began volunteering with CACs eight years ago because she wanted to learn more about offender reintegration and support systems within her own community. For her, creating links between communities and offenders is important and one of the core responsibilities of CACs. In March, she became the CAC national chairperson to ensure these linkages are made.
Chelsea had the opportunity to share the stage with international presenters at the annual International Corrections and Prison Associates (ICPA) conference in October 2018 to talk about offender reintegration on a global scale.
“I was approached by NHQ and asked if I would like to speak at the ICPA conference about what CAC does and graciously accepted,” she says. “I provided a (presentation) to explain how CAC structure is across our nation, the vital role that our community links provide in successful reintegration, as well as institutions behind the wall.”
This year, ICPA conference was held in Montreal, Quebec. The conference provided an opportunity for delegates from around the world to share best practices and address challenges in corrections. With over 150 speakers, there was no shortage of correctional knowledge.
For Chelsea, a presentation from Ireland was one of the most touching and extremely powerful.
“They talked a lot about trauma-responsive work, recognizing the trauma that offenders experience in life, which sometimes lead to their behaviours (and) how we as leaders of prison organizations can actually look at better ways to respond to trauma,” she says. “It really brought home what CAC does, holding ourselves accountable to our community, holding CSC accountable to their mandate, and what their responsibility is around successful reintegration.”
The rest of the conference presenters also provided Chelsea with renewed energy to continue positive relationships between the community and the federal correctional system. Though corrections is not an easy topic to discuss, she says, the level of transparency and expertise offered by CSC staff in particular during the ICPA conference was exceptional.
“To be able to learn from colleagues throughout the nation, ‘how did this work for you, how did you implement it?’” Chelsea says. “That way you are actually taking this knowledge and rolling it out into our Canadian correctional system. You would very rarely get that many professionals in a room; they are all very candid. They are there to talk about the transparency part, what is working, what is not, and learn from each other and other nations.”
Whether it’s through monthly meetings, hearing stories from offenders, or travelling to community sites, Chelsea’s hard work – and the work done by all CAC members – has a lasting impact on community reintegration.
“We make sure we are doing the best we can,” she says. “Where are the gaps that we are seeing, how can we actually bridge them with CSC, and how we can make those partnerships stronger? We take information back out to the communities to make sure there is a linkage, a support for offenders.”