2016 Taylor Award Regional Nominees
Pacific Region nominee – Susan Underwood
Susan is being nominated for the Taylor Award for her long-time voluntary work with Mission Institution minimum-security unit and the Fraser Valley community.
Susan’s work for approximately 20 years has been to connect and bridge different groups in the community toward mutual learning and healing. She works as a liaison to the FAVOR Group, a weekly restorative justice exploration group at Mission Institution’s minimum-security unit. She is also a long-time chair/co-chair of the Mission Institution minimum-security unit’s Restorative Justice Conference. She also volunteers as a community support for released offenders, in restorative justice education in the community, and as a non-security escort on offenders’ escorted temporary absences.
As director of the Partners in Learning program in Mission and Abbotsford, she oversaw the mentoring of countless youth by inmates of minimum-security unit at Mission Institution. Her most recent work is as is a Victim-Offender Mediation Program facilitator with the Community Justice Initiatives Association. This program assists both victims and offenders to work towards healing outcomes through a restorative justice approach.
Susan is a long-time resident and has raised her family in the Fraser Valley. Her earlier work with Abbotsford Community Services and with Rogers Communication helped root her deeply in that community. Her volunteer work has also included service as an executive member of the B.C. Association of Community Law Offices, a board member of Abbotsford Community Services, and as a media/video producer with the local Rogers Cable outlet.
As CSC’s mandate is to prepare inmates for successful reintegration, Susan and other volunteers provide support, modelling and encouragement for inmates as they learn pro-social and law-abiding ways of being contributing members of the community.
Ontario Region nominees – Neil and Gertie Minnema
For 47 years, Neil and Gertie have been chaplaincy volunteers at multiple facilities in the Kingston area. Both regularly participate in leading worship, provide music at Chapel service, and give one-on-one support, counselling and religious education to offenders. They also provide citizen escorting and support to offenders released to the community.
Neil and Gertie have demonstrated a kind and compassionate spirit in their relationship with offenders and consistently demonstrate a genuine interest in the well being of offenders. They take time to listen, encourage and challenge inmates to think more positively and to seek ways of making better lifestyle choices.
Locally they also volunteer at a thrift store and assist with the Meals on Wheels Program in the Kingston area.
Outside of Canada, Neil and Gertie have traveled the world in humanitarian aid. They have assisted in the rebuilding homes, orphanages and schools in places after devastating natural disasters. They have assisted in places like Japan following the tsunami and helped rebuild homes in New Orleans, Texas and South Carolina devastated by hurricanes and floods. They’ve helped to build orphanages in Romania and volunteered in several African countries like Uganda, Zambia and Kenya.
Their efforts provide great inspiration to other volunteers, CSC staff and inmates alike. Their reputation is admired and recognized throughout the Kingston area. If two people carry on the legacy of Dr. Charles Taylor and his wife Charlotte with faith-based counseling with offenders in correctional facilities and in the community it is this outstanding team of givers – hats off to Neil and Gertie Minnema.
Prairie Region nominee – Captain Edward Dean
Captain Edward Dean of the Maple Creek Saskatchewan Salvation Army has been a valued volunteer and community champion for Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge for 10 years.
Captain Edward Dean, or “Captain Ed”, has escorted countless temporary absences for offenders participating in community service as well as work release opportunities with the Salvation Army Thrift Shop and Church. He encourages women offenders to volunteer and assists them in building and strengthening positive community relationships.
Captain Dean assists the healing lodge recognize yearly events such as Remembrance Day, and Christmas and Easter dinners. He is respectful of local traditions and First Nation teachings and participates in Spring and Fall Feast, and cultural and spiritual events and ceremonies such as Sundance, powwows, and the Horse dance. He also makes it possible for residents to sell their hobby crafts in the community, which means they can earn their own money and have a sense of satisfaction and pride at a job well done.
Captain Dean has housed families visiting offenders and helped them with meals and transportation. When a resident scheduled to be conditionally released had her bus cancelled due to poor weather, Captain Dean drove her to make sure she did not miss her connection. While there, he took the opportunity to visit another resident who had been released to a halfway house nearby.
Captain Dean is also a member of the Housing Board in Maple Creek, the Chaplain for the local RCMP detachment and legion branch, and a member of the Citizen Advisory Committee for the healing lodge.
Captain Edward Dean embodies the spirit of volunteerism. He is a wonderful, humble person who enhances offenders’ lives and strengthens the rehabilitation process. Captain Dean’s focus, determination and unrelenting ambition and energy are an inspiration to us all.
Atlantic Region nominee – Donna Gardiner
Donna Gardiner has volunteered in her community in Newfoundland and Labrador for more than 20 years in various capacities. She began volunteering with a local Circles of Support and Accountability. She then was appointed to the Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) of the Newfoundland & Labrador Community Correctional Centre (CCC). About 18 years later, she is chair of the CAC at the CCC and is CAC vice-chair for the Atlantic Region. Donna is presently on the CAC Subcommittee for Women Offenders and an active volunteer for the 7thStep Society of Canada that she attends weekly in Her Majesty’s Penitentiary, a provincial facility.
Donna also previously held a position on the National Volunteer Association of CSC, has been involved with the St. John’s Cerebral Palsy Association, the Rainbow Riders Therapeutic Riding Program, and Community Chaplaincy.
Donna is a mother of three and grandmother of two. Her initial career began in nursing, after which she also completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology/Sociology, as well as a Criminology Certificate. In 2003 Donna received a Parole Officer Induction Program Certificate from CSC. In her spare time, she makes jewelry and home décor items from recycled silver plated cutlery.
Donna has also demonstrated a keen interest in Indigenous and women offender issues. She is an individual who continually demonstrates her commitment to this community and the volunteer sector. Donna is a valued asset to various community organizations and has demonstrated an ability to work collaboratively with other volunteers, community partners, CSC and offenders.