Thursday, January 24, 2013

The CAC and Community Engagement – doing something great

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The CAC and Community Engagement – doing something great
Last evening I had the opportunity to attend a meeting with volunteers in Sudbury, Ontario.  That took place immediately following a great day at the Mall in Peterborough where I was showing my wood carving. 

Swish! What a ride that was!  One ended at 4:30pm and the other started at 5:00pm.  Double Swish – I glided over hill and dale – past mighty pines and over the bad weather that possibly happens around or near the Georgian Bay area as you travel to Sudbury.

Now you know this change from southern Ontario to central Ontario is impossible in one half hour – even with the fastest jet… I think I have your attention.

I simply walked up stairs from the Mall that I was in to the Parole Office which is located on the south end of the Mall complex… then I turned on the Video Conferencing equipment and the Sudbury Crew was waiting on our connection.

Why Sudbury and why a Parole Office and what were you doing there Lincoln?

Well in one of my community volunteer roles I serve as the CAC Chair for the Ontario Region of CSC. 

The CAC is the Citizens Advisory Committee. Each Federal Prisons and each Parole Office is encouraged to build and work with a CAC.  The CAC is a group of Citizens that agree to work alongside the Correctional Service Canada monitoring what the CSC is doing and how well they do their multitude of tasks. The CAC is also the community link to the “outside–of–CSC” world.  They are the Community Link that helps keep the community aware of what is happening in CSC to the best of their ability. 

They are also the Community Link that observes what is taking place within the Institutions where the prisoners are kept.  If there is a riot or some difficulty the CAC members are informed and possibly brought in by CSC staff to Observe, Liaise and then Advise about what they witnessed.

The community based CAC works toward building bridges to the community by many different possibilities and programs that they can do. Each thing they do is designed to engage the community.

Last evening I had the opportunity to witness firsthand the things that Sudbury’s new CAC is doing.  This is an active group that has taken on a series of small task that is letting their community come to know who they are. They are to be commended for their work together.  They are building connections with the ex-offenders that are now living in the community. They are also building support for the CSC Staff members that work within the Parole Office.

The Sudbury CAC is taking new steps to “engage their community”.  Community Engagement is what the CAC in the community does best.

The CAC idea is one that originates with our Federal Government. A number of years ago the Government mandated that each CSC facility would have a group of Citizens available to its staff and the inmates.  So the position has a high authority supporting its basis for doing what they do.

This year one of our goals in Ontario is to improve our communications with each group offering support and encouragement.  This we hope will lead to a greater strengthening of each group’s community engagement.

Over the years I have sat on many different kinds of committees (not CACs BTW).  Some have been active and some have been useless.  Where the committee has found a purpose and something they can get their teeth into… in other words do something that produces some sort of result… they thrive.

Where the committee has no purpose… or rather does nothing with the purpose they have… it will lose its members… and direction.

I compliment the Sudbury CAC today. Keep up the good work.  You will be an example to some of the other CACs that are starting to put their ideas into action.

If you are somewhere in Canada and are interested in getting involved in a CAC – email me at  I can help you get started in an exciting community engagement – and do something great!

~ Murray Lincoln ~
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