Christine Bootsma has enjoyed the opportunity to grow in her career with BC Corrections and make a difference in the lives of inmates.

It’s nothing like TV: Women in BC Corrections

BC Corrections aims to boost hiring numbers with professionals passionate about making a difference

Christine Bootsma had a lot to learn when she started work as a BC correctional officer at the young age of 24. The first lesson? Don’t believe everything you see on TV.

“When people think of correctional facilities, what does everyone go to? ‘Oh, is it like Orange is the New Black?’” Bootsma says, laughing. “It’s nothing like TV.”

Instead, what Bootsma found after beginning her career as a correctional officer, was work where she could connect and build trust with inmates, and in the process help them be successful in their post-incarceration lives. Ten years later, she has moved up the ranks to a position as an Assistant Deputy Warden at the Nanaimo Correctional Centre.

“There’s so much growth and opportunity to advance yourself if you put in the work and you are passionate about changing lives,” says Bootsma.

New officers welcome

That opportunity is something BC Corrections’ Adult Custody Division is hoping to provide to more people over the coming months, as it doubles the number of new officers it typically hires – offering meaningful careers for men and women with the skills and personal qualities needed in today’s peace officers.

“Being a correctional officer with BC Corrections is not about being aggressive or showing tough behaviour. It’s about emotional maturity, being fair and having great communication skills,” says Stephanie Macpherson, Provincial Director, BC Corrections.

“Many women and men who have raised kids have effectively developed these transferrable skills. We have many excellent female and male officers who previously worked in the service industry and are now some of our most effective officers because they interact very well with inmates,” Macpherson says. “If someone can handle impatient and frustrated customers at a bar or a coffee shop, those same skills will help them manage an inmate in a living unit.

“Our staff truly cares about helping those who have found themselves in custody. They want to make a difference and have a positive influence on these men and women. We firmly believe our officers are so successful because they are such strong role models.”

Bootsma says that women in particular should consider applying for the positions available, because they have played such an integral mentorship role in her own time as an officer. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the women in my life who helped me when I first started,” she says.

Personal and professional rewards

There are personal rewards, too. In particular, the success of the Storybook Dads program, spearheaded by Bootsma and the John Howard Society of British Columbia, has been a source of pride. The program allows inmates to read a children’s story book and have it recorded; the story book and recording is then mailed to their child, who gets to hear their dad read to them.

“It was really cool reading the letters from the inmates and seeing the gratitude from their families,” Bootsma says. “Even though they’re far away, they’re still with them.”

Working with BC Corrections has allowed Bootsma to further her education through the BC Government Pacific Leaders Scholarships for Public Servants. “It allowed me to go back to school and finish my degree, which was pretty awesome.”

Just Posted

Surfrider Pacific Rim: Celebrating SonBird’s dedication to the Coast

West Coast recycling centre continues to serve thanks to an open-air depot and new regulations.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve issues wolf advisory

Frequent sightings reported around Long Beach area.

Online video series to feature writers from Tofino and Ucluelet

Quite Determined series launched to showcase creative minds whose speaking events were cancelled.

Ucluelet releases COVID-19 Recovery Plan

Part of the recovery plan involves deploying three district staff as COVID-19 Community Monitors

About 30% of B.C. students return to schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Be cautious expanding COVID-19 bubble, Dr. Bonnie Henry tells B.C.

Senior homes stay off-limits as schools, businesses reopen

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

Considerations made to keep Island community’s drive-by birthday celebrations going

Trucks will tone it down or not use horns at all to bring some joy to kids and older folks

RCMP, coroner investigate murder-suicide on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

Summer tubing ban on Cowichan River lifted

The Tube Shack opening on June 27

NDP getting COVID-19 wage subsidy ‘indirectly,’ B.C. Liberal leader says

B.C. NDP says Andrew Wilkinson is wrong about federal link

Most Read