The Northpine Foundation has announced an $820,000 investment to Men of The North that will help formerly incarcerated individuals with employment opportunities and support expanding services into other communities in Northern Saskatchewan over the next three years. The investment will provide mental health support and services, as well as employment training and additional support for greater success for those facing barriers to employment, reducing the likelihood of recidivism.
Headquartered in Lac La Ronge, Saskatchewan, Men of the North is an inclusive mental health support program and outreach initiative, welcoming men from all regions, ethnic backgrounds, and socioeconomic statuses.
Formerly incarcerated individuals face significant obstacles to finding meaningful employment, resulting in chronic underemployment and increasing the likelihood of reoffending. The situation is particularly acute in Northern Saskatchewan, where there are no laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on criminal history.
This investment aims to tackle this issue through a collaboration with Men of the North, a community-based organization focused on both non-Indigenous and Indigenous-centered mental health support in various northern Saskatchewan communities. By utilizing their strong network within the industry and affiliations with relevant organizations, companies and contractors, Men of the North aim to extend support to the workforce at various worksites.
“By providing education and training programs culturally appropriate to build skills and knowledge relevant to the northern Saskatchewan job market and partnering with North Saskatchewan employers to understand their specific staffing needs and match candidates accordingly, we aim to support men from northern Saskatchewan, especially the formerly incarcerated, to overcome systemic barriers and gain access to meaningful work,” said Christopher Merasty, founder of Men of the North Inc. “We believe this investment will provide a pathway to employment for those previously incarcerated, helping to break the cycle of chronic underemployment and reducing the likelihood of reoffending.”
Men of the North will also aim to address stigma and discrimination by working with community leaders and elders to address prejudices and help enforce employment equity legislation.
“Finding a leader like Christopher is rare. We are thrilled to invest in an organization with a leader who is deeply connected with his people, bringing grace and mutual respect to every interaction he has with community members,” said Sara Tessier, Director of Impact – Formerly Incarcerated Persons at the Northpine Foundation. “This investment aligns with our mission to promote equity and inclusivity, reduce recidivism and empower formerly incarcerated individuals to improve their quality of life and contribute to society.”
The investment will allow Men of the North to expand their client base, match job seekers with more North Saskatchewan employers, and remove employment barriers by providing access to resources like transportation and childcare.