Providing services and supports to Canada’s most vulnerable people is highly complex, but the reality is that we all try our best each and every day to navigate through this complexity as we support people with complex barriers alongside other John Howard Societies that collectively serve as leaders in criminal and social justice.
Recognizing the wealth of knowledge, expertise, and skill held by the 60+ John Howard Society teams across Canada, we come together every other year through the John Howard Society National Conference to share best practices, identify practical solutions, and learn from each other as we work to tackle social and criminal justice issues and support people in our communities.
We were set to hold the 2020 JHS National Conference in Kamloops, BC this past May; but the introduction of COVID-19 into our global society changed that.
Come early 2020, we were in the thick of organizing the conference led by JHS British Columbia – with venues secured, hotels booked, and presenters selected, but the travel bans and physical distancing measures required to keep our community safe in the wake of the pandemic required us to quickly adapt our programming in order to continue championing the core values and theme of the event.
This year’s conference, focused on building safe, healthy and inclusive communities, investigated opportunities for multi-sector collaboration and systemic change – and for the first time ever, we did this virtually.
We worked with our friends at JHS Canada and JHS British Columbia to re-envision the conference in order to ensure that the barriers in our way didn’t compromise intentions behind the JHS National Conference. The conference was transformed into an 8-week Speaker Series, which featured many of the incredible presenters that were scheduled to showcase their work at our in-person conference in addition to new guests across the country.
Taking the JHS 2020 National Conference digital allowed for our most accessible conference yet, with over 250 unique registrants joining 9 Speaker Series sessions – for free.
We were fortunate to have presented in two Speaker Series sessions throughout the JHS 2020 National Conference, providing focus on two of our new innovative programs: Peer Mentors and Supervised Residential Housing.
We encourage you to check out the JHSBC blog posts on our conference sessions to gain insights into two of our new programs and learn from key stakeholders that we work with to deliver them!
Our Peer Mentor program came about as a direct response to the opioid epidemic among the formerly incarcerated, and involves essential leadership from people with lived experience (Peers).
During our Speaker Series Session that took place in July, the Executive Director of JHS Canada, Catherine Latimer interviewed our Peer Mentor, David on his experience delivering the program, the role of a Peer, and how his life experience got him to where he is now.
Our Supervised Residential Housing program is among the newest programs to join our suite of services, and it’s the first program of its kind in Canada.
During our Speaker Series Session, we were joined by Andrea Monteiro, Director of Yukon Corrections and Howard Sapers, Independent Advisor on Corrections Reform to the Ontario Government to provide details into how the innovative program came about, where the program is to date, and where it’s heading.
JHS British Columbia have been doing a fantastic job at profiling each of the Speaker Series session on their blog, and have released many of the session recordings on YouTube.