Skip to content

CNC’s reintegration program for federal offenders receives national award of excellence

CNC’s Reintegration Industry Readiness Training (RIRT) program has won the Gold Program Excellence Award at the 2023 Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) Awards of Excellence in Montréal.

The RIRT program works in collaboration with Corrections Service Canada, the provincial Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills, and local employers to help previously incarcerated individuals gain skills and resources to successfully rejoin the workforce.

“The RIRT program is a big opportunity for previously incarcerated people to get a new chance at life,” said Dennis Johnson, president and CEO of CNC. “We’re all about lifelong learning, no matter what people’s background, no matter where they are in life, but this program really stands out because of who we are impacting.”

CICan’s Program Excellence Award recognizes a program that is innovative, portable, sustainable, and effective. Since the RIRT program was first introduced in 2015, it has served more than 80 participants. Through the program, students are introduced to three

CNC trades programs (automotive, carpentry, and pro-cook) and can earn 13 worksite safety and equipment operator tickets.

Students also learn job-readiness skills through mock interviews and presentations with local employers. Currently, it is the only program of its kind in Canada.

“We’re teaching them that they don’t have the stigma of being ‘a con’. They already feel that way coming in. Having a program like this, nobody has a predetermined idea of what they are and how they are,” said parole officer and program coordinator Giselle Valaire. “I’m a huge advocate of the mock-interviews because it’s an opportunity for these students to get coached through the difficult spots. They build conflict management skills, get constructive feedback, and gain a confidence they haven’t had before.”

A 2021 report published by Public Safety Canada found that only 50.8 per cent of past federal offenders reported employment income in 2014, and the average income reported was only $14,000.

“The statistics show that without the appropriate supports and training, employment outcomes for previously incarcerated people are very poor,” said Johnson. “Our program actually has a 70 per cent success rate in getting students back into the workforce with gainful employment, which is amazing.”

Graduates of the program have gone on to careers in local mills, construction landscaping, resource extraction, and traffic control. Others have pursued further education in the trades.

“I didn’t really know what to expect before I entered the program,” shared an RIRT graduate. “Initially I approached it as a requirement of my parole, but once we got started, it felt good to start exercising my brain again. Everyone at CNC was kind and helped me figure out what to do next. Knowing I had that support made me feel more comfortable applying to the welding program once I finished.”

The RIRT program also provides wrap-around supports for students during their time at CNC and in their future endeavors. Some of these supports include personal protective equipment, accommodations for learning abilities, and non-perishable food items for participants who require them.

Visit the CICan website for more information on the Awards of Excellence.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *