Supporting 7th Step Society of Canada to dismantle barriers to reintegration for the Formerly Incarcerated

August 28, 2023

In a significant stride towards societal reintegration, the Northpine Foundation has invested $500,000 in a 7th Step Society of Canada initiative that will offer vital support to Formerly Incarcerated Persons (FIPs) seeking a fresh start. This investment will enable the organization to train and employ FIPs as volunteers and facilitators across Canada, as well as providing assistance for pardon services.

There are over 3.4 million FIPs with open criminal records in Canada, facing hurdles in securing employment, housing, education, and financial assistance due to their past. These obstacles contribute to higher recidivism rates. With this initiative, 7th Step Society aims to provide free, programs, training, and accessible pardon services in the record suspension application process, offering a lifeline of hope to FIPs.

“By removing the obstacles that arise from a ‘less severe’ criminal record, we are not only providing a chance for individuals to rebuild their lives but also reducing the strain on the parole board and the system as a whole,” said George Myette, Executive Director of 7th Step Society of Canada.

The investment comes in response to the urgent need to reduce recidivism, protect society, create safe spaces and trainings for those who have been in conflict with the law. The supports offered include accessible alternatives to expensive, often predatory private pardon services. In partnership with the Alberta 7th Step Society, the Department of Community Services Nova Scotia, and Public Safety Canada, through our ‘Pardon Me, 7th Step’ project, this initiative aims to eliminate financial barriers for those on social assistance, making the services truly affordable.

Nancy Everson, a formerly incarcerated person and now a case manager employed with the Pardon Me 7th Step project said, “The 7th Step Society has supported me in so many ways. They helped me find my worth, self-confidence, and purpose to thrive, not just survive on my journey to be a contributing member of society.”

The 7th Step Society has already made significant strides, with support groups, behavioral programs, peer support training and has engaged over 130 individuals, receiving 80 inquiries for appointments in less than six months for the Pardons program alone. The Northpine Foundation investment aligns with their larger vision of investing in the most underserved communities across Canada, as well as with Public Safety Canada’s initiative to support organizations engaged in community reintegration and corrections.

“We are proud to partner with the 7th Step Society of Canada to create meaningful change in the lives of FIPs,” said Sara Tessier, Director of Impact – Formerly Incarcerated Persons at the Northpine Foundation. “This initiative not only addresses social equity but also contributes to safer communities by empowering individuals to transform their lives. Our goal is to see this model expand and be replicated by organizations across Canada to bring positive change that ripples through families, communities, and society.”

With a commitment from Public Safety Canada already in place for core funding and the Pardons project, the 7th Step Society is poised to make a lasting impact. By training FIPs to serve as volunteers and facilitators, the organization aims provide vital support programs and speed up obtaining record suspensions, thus reducing the burden on both FIPs and the carceral system, including the Parole Board of Canada.

This Northpine investment in the 7th Step Society initiative is an investment in hope for thousands of individuals striving to break free from the constraints of their past.

Learn more about 7th Step Society of Canada here and see the Northpine Foundation’s investments in Formerly Incarcerated Persons here.