March 20, 2020
Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) Statement Regarding COVID-19 to Community Partners
From CoSA Canada Board of Directors
As an important and valued community safety partner, we would like to provide an update on our efforts to address the specific needs of our clients during these rapidly changing times in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are working closely with all 14 CoSA sites across the country to shift from in-person meetings to remote operations, in compliance with public health recommendations for social/physical distancing. Supported by our staff and board members, all sites are currently exploring a variety of options that enable group meetings from a distance. We recognize the significant mental health challenges this pandemic can have especially during times of isolation and we are working hard to ensure strong support for our shared clients is maintained.
As always, CoSA remains committed to ensuring our circles are working collaboratively with partners towards the goal of keeping our communities safe. It is during times such as these, we must remember that no one can do this alone. We are all in this together.
I encourage you to contact your local CoSA site to discuss specific practices; and I invite you to contact me for broader issues or concerns.
WHAT IS CIRCLES OF SUPPORT AND ACCOUNTABILITY?
Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) is a reintegration initiative, operating on restorative justice principles, that 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, so are not mandated by the judicial system. CoSA-Ottawa is one of currently 15 Canadian sites operating a CoSA program, representing approximately 150 to 200 circles and 700 volunteers.
The Core Member and three to five trained and screened community volunteers comprise a 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
Officers:Acting President: Cliff Yumansky, Retired Federal Public Service Acting Vice President:
Lyse Morin, St. John’s Representative Treasurer: John Daley, Accountant, Federal Public Service Secretary:
Tara McWhinney, PhD Candidate, Social Sciences
Directors:Suzanne Johnson, Analyst, Department of Justice and former Volunteer Jake Legault, Defense lawyer Victoria Stillie, Victims’ directorate, Department of Justice and former Volunteer Nicole St. John, Sergeant, Investigations, Ottawa Police Service
(Updated May, 2021)