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Innovative Social Enterprise Seeks Volunteers

How do you change society's attitudes about inmates? How can inmates change their lives? An innovative program in Greater Vancouver, B.C. Canada has found a way - through art!

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June 27, 2006 (FPRC) -- Abbotsford, B.C. – Society today seems to have little or no tolerance for people who commit crime and many would like to “throw away the key”. The reality is, however, that most federal inmates incarcerated in Canada today will one day be released back into the community.

An innovative cooperative in the Fraser Valley has taken a different view, and launched a social enterprise that has inmate owners at Mountain Institution producing quality works of art from behind bars. This art work is then marketed and sold, generating funds for continued art work and business growth, hence weaning the inmates off of inmate pay and institutional jobs, as they begin to pay income tax on these revenues. This will be the first coordinated instance of tax-paying inmates in Canada.

Stacey Corriveau is a Social Enterprise Developer from Community Futures South Fraser, and has been involved in the cooperative since its inception in late 2004. “We wanted to provide inmates with useful business skills that would allow them to understand the market place and generate revenue from their endeavours,” said Corriveau in a recent interview. The initiative has developed a website that highlights their story and work of inmates – www.InsideArt.ca .

This social enterprise provides inmates with entrepreneurial training, marketing assistance and a sense of self-sufficiency, with the goals of becoming contributing and responsible members of society at large upon release, and even while incarcerated. With skills, training and support these inmates are less likely to be dependent on social agencies for financial aid, food and shelter – while contributing to the community at the same time. They are also much less likely to commit new crimes.

Ms. Corriveau says, “In our effort to move forward with marketing of members’ art we are seeking new members for our board and are looking to the community for people who believe in the development of social enterprise and wish to get involved.” Board members will not be selling art, but will provide input and guidance to the cooperative. “Members of the local community with experience, skills or interest in art marketing, business, community economic development, and/or inmate reintegration would be ideally suited to contribute,” says Corriveau. Meetings will be held in Abbotsford, on a monthly basis.

Community members who want to get involved are asked to contact Stacey Corriveau at Community Futures of South Fraser in Abbotsford. Please express interest by providing a statement of qualifications, experience and interest (or any questions) to Stacey Corriveau, Inside Art Manager, at stacey.corriveau@southfraser.com or fax 604-864-5769.


= end =


For more information and/or interviews:
Stacey Corriveau
604-864-5770 ext. 307
stacey.corriveau@southfraser.com



Send an email to Wendy McClelland of Community Futures of South Fraser
604-864-5770



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