Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) is a community-based initiative operating on restorative justice principles.  CoSA assists individuals who have served a prison sentence for a sexual offence(s) in their effort to re-enter society. These individuals, who we refer to as Core Members, participate in the program voluntarily and are not mandated by the judicial system.  CoSA-Ottawa is one of currently 18 Canadian cities operating CoSA programs, representing approximately 150 to 200 circles and 500 volunteers.

The Core Member and three to five trained and screened community volunteers comprise the Circle.  They meet as a group and individually on a regular basis to:

  • Support the Core Member’s community integration by facilitating his practical needs (i.e. access to medical services, social assistance, seeking employment/affordable housing, etc.) and by providing a consistent network of emotional support;
  • Develop constructive and pro-social strategies and solutions to everyday problems and concerns;
  • Challenge the Core Member’s behaviours and attitudes that may be associated with his offending cycle.
  • Celebrate successes.

Board of Directors


Emmy Verdun, Economist, Retired Public Servant
Vice President: 
Robert Cormier, Former Executive Director, National Crime Prevention Centre
Sharon Rouleau, Finance Assistant, Shepherds of Good Hope, and former Circle Volunteer
Nicole Bedard, Development Coordinator, Beechwood Cemetery Foundation


Alice Doell, Retired Pharmacist and current Circle Volunteer
Kerry Lamming, Retired High School Principal and current Circle Volunteer
Sarah Starkie, Defense Lawyer
Wendy Stewart, Director of Operations, Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa
Nicole St. John, Sergeant-in-charge of Mental Health Unit, Ottawa Police Service
BoD2015_16 croppedBack: Sarah Starkie, Nicole Bedard, Kerry Lamming, Alice Doell, Wendy Stewart, Sharon Rouleau
Front: Bob Cormier, Emmy Verdun
Missing: Nicole St. John
(Updated June, 2015)

4 Responses to

  1. Daniel Gennaro says:

    This kind of service is needed in America. As a former Job Coach/Trainer Advocate and a family member to young adult that has been convicted of a sexual offender felony case, I see the drastic lack of support and assistance from the courts. Above all- the misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the court taking the side of the younger party over the other. To discuss the problems of our society is fruitless: i.e. how woman are much more promiscuous today than ever, and how a lack of supervision in their lives, whether on the internet or out in the public goes un-mentioned or taken into consideration when judging a case.

    To overcome such cruel unfairness and bias we need organizations such as yours to take a stand for this injustice, and also a wealth of volunteers to help aide those individuals like my family member who is trying to better their life, but sadly, after being ashamed and degredaded by peers who subjugate them to a “one size fits all” offender list- they do not see any hope for their future, in terms of finding a job and making something out of themselves. They feel destitute, no matter what age they may be. While they are on the inside, ordinary, good, helpful, kind and considerate people who have been misunderstood from a young age, and helplessly probably misunderstood/misunderstand themselves.

    Can I be connected to some of your sites resources and learn how to perhaps seek the same sort of services in the u.s.a.?

    Thank you and God Bless the Church for doing his will, I wish and pray now that similar organizations rise up to the challenge in America.

    Dan from Pennsylvania.

    • slove says:

      Hi Dan,
      My sincere apologies for the delay in responding – I just noticed your message now sadly. I can send you list of CoSA sites in the US if you are still interested. If so, please contact me by e-mail at slove@cosa-ottawa.ca. Susan

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hello my name is doug Carley. I live in Australia. I am very interested in your program. I came across the Costa program while writing a paper on the aetiology of child sexual abuse in nsw Australia.i will be travelling to Toronto Canada on the 7th sept. This year. The purpose of this visit is to study your program. Upon my return to Australia I will write a comprehensive paper on your cosa program.
    Hoping we can stay in touch.

    • slove says:

      My apologies for the delay in responding Doug. That’s great that you are coming to Canada. We would love to host you, if you are able to come to Ottawa. Regardless, I can put you in touch with my colleagues in Toronto. Perhaps send me an e-mail slove@cosa-ottawa.ca. Looking forward to hearing from you! Susan

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