Create change in your community – Summerland Review
Scott Bertrand remembers receiving the handwritten thank you card in the mail. Not unusual, but this card was from a former incarcerated person and Bertrand was one of the BC correctional officers who oversaw his time in the provincial corrections system.
As a young correctional officer, new to the job, Bertrand supervised the man’s living unit, learning that they grew up in the same hometown. This was the individual’s first time in a correctional center and he was having family difficulties.
“I knew very young that it was something I wanted to do”
“He needed someone to talk to about his life and his plans. He saw there was no judgment on my part and I was able to relate some of my experiences to what he was going through,” Bertrand recalls.
After the man was released, he sent the card thanking Bertrand for taking the time. “We really have an impact,” says Bertrand, moved to know that he has affected another person’s life.
“I have really seen that many people in detention are receptive to change and we have a huge opportunity.”
“Our staff are our greatest asset and we believe they act as strong role models in their personal and professional lives,” says Stephanie Macpherson, Provincial Director, BC Corrections, outlining BC Corrections’ vision: “Inspiring Excellence and change lives”. ‘
“Our staff genuinely cares about helping those who have found themselves in detention. They want to make a difference and have a positive influence on these men and women. We strongly believe that our leaders do so well because they are from such good role models. At every moment, we exercise the choice to display who we are as individuals and as officers. For us, it’s really about people and the belief that there is opportunity of change.
Marking 10 years with BC Corrections, Bertrand began working for the organization at age 19, fulfilling a years-long interest in the field. “I knew at a very young age that it was something I wanted to do,” he says.
While incoming officers are often a bit older, with other work and life experiences, Bertrand brought both a keen interest, experience with community and travel, and an awareness that communication would be l one of its greatest strengths.
People in custody of all ages appreciate his position of mutual respect, demonstrated by words and deeds.
“Communication is an important part of our job. I confirm to them that I will treat them with respect and all I ask in return is that they do the same,” he says. “As soon as a client sees that you feel that empathy, it’s amazing the progress you can make with them,” says Bertrand.
The rewards of labor
On a personal level, the married father of young children appreciates the growth opportunities and work-life balance that BC Corrections provides.
With 10 correctional centers in British Columbia housing approximately 2,800 people incarcerated at any one time, BC Corrections employees work directly with people in custody, supporting positive changes in their lives and working towards successful reintegration into society.
In addition to pay, benefits, and pension, a flexible shift schedule also allows officers to balance family responsibilities. Professionally, Bertrand also appreciates the various career opportunities that allow him to grow and advance.
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