Make a difference through Community and Justice Services

Community and Justice Services is one of six programs Law and Justice students may enter after Common First Semester, but while the other five programs – Customs Border Services, Law Clerk, Paralegal, Police Foundations, and Protection, Security and Investigation – bring a certain uniform or job duty to mind, Community and Justice Services (CJS) may seem more vague.

cjs-studentsWhat is CJS?

“The CJS program prepares graduates to work in the community and institutional settings with individuals who are involved – or at risk of becoming involved – with the criminal justice system,” said program coordinator Cindy Gervais. “This career path is extremely rewarding and challenging, because graduates are helping individuals to address risk and promote resiliency.”

Applied learning

One component of this Law and Justice program is the 15-week field placement, where students earn 520 hours in the field networking and gaining real world experience.

Jennifer Guerin, Correctional Manager at Warkworth Institution and member of the CJS Program Advisory Committee, welcomes CJS students on placement to Warkworth Institution, where they observe operations and interventions. She credits the CJS program with preparing students for the field.

“The program teaches the student what is important to bring into a federal institution, such as the stresses on dynamic security and the art of communication. The five week on-site interaction with a group and inmate interviews gives them a hands-on experience prior to placement,” said Jennifer, referencing the Field Observation course students take in their second semester. “All of the students are well-versed on professional boundaries and dynamic security practices.”

Graduate success

Nicole Soanes
Nicole Soanes, Youth Justice Committee Coordinator at John Howard Society of Peterborough

Nicole Soanes took Fleming’s CJS program because she wanted a career that would make a positive impact on the community. After graduating in 2017, Nicole hit the ground running at the John Howard Society of Peterborough as Youth Justice Committee Coordinator.

“I graduated feeling extremely competent and prepared to enter the workforce, and continue to learn and grow. Fleming College and the CJS program made it possible for me to find my passion and find myself,” said Nicole.

As Youth Justice Committee Coordinator, Nicole works with youth ages 12 to 17 who have come in contact with the justice system. She conducts intakes with youth, and coordinates restorative justice conferences between her clients and those they have harmed. Nicole also coordinates volunteers who are trained to facilitate restorative justice conferences.

Her most memorable career experience thus far is attending the National Restorative Justice Symposium in Ottawa as a field professional. “I was able to learn more about Indigenous traditions and Sacred Circles and one of the origins of restorative justice, which are the Maori tribes from New Zealand. When I first started to research and learn about restorative practices, I thought it was a small niche, and I have since learned of the massive – and growing – impact that restorative work is having around the world.”

Nicole’s passion for restorative justice was ignited after taking an Aboriginal Justice course during her first semester at Fleming College. Following the course, Nicole launched an initiative in her hometown to implement restorative justice practices for youth before they enter into the justice system, and during her final semester at Fleming College she applied for her current job.

Her advice to current students is to try to grow and improve each day, go outside of your comfort zone, talk to your peers and reach out for help when needed. “Most of all, find your passion. I can tell you that it is amazing to completely love what you do every day.”

Nicole Soanes aims to make positive impact as Youth Justice Committee Coordinator at John Howard Society of Peterborough

nicole-soanesNicole Soanes wanted a career that would make a positive impact on the community. After graduating from the Community and Justice Services program at Fleming College in 2017, she hit the ground running at the John Howard Society of Peterborough as Youth Justice Committee Coordinator.

“What I love the most about my job is getting the chance to work with youth who are often at a critical moment where they can take one of two pathways,” said Nicole. “I hope to assist clients in making positive choices in order to get on a productive and healthy path in their life.”

Nicole works with youth ages 12 to 17 who have come in contact with the justice system. She conducts intakes with youth, and coordinates restorative justice conferences between her clients and those they have harmed. Nicole also coordinates volunteers who are trained to facilitate restorative justice conferences.

“I love being able to connect a person who has caused harm with the person who has been harmed, and help to promote understanding and healing for everyone involved in a situation,” she said.

Many of the skills Nicole developed at Fleming College are applicable to her job, including the social skills and confidence she gained in the Community and Justice Services program.

“In particular, the Interviewing and Counselling course in Community and Justice Services made me feel extremely prepared to take on my current role,” explained Nicole. “That class was incredibly uncomfortable– sitting in front of all your peers and doing role-plays was a nightmare for me! However, I pushed through and it was so worth it. Interviewing and Counselling gave me the skills that I use every day in my role at the John Howard Society when working with clients.”

Nicole decided to enrol in the Community and Justice Services program after spending two years in university. “I approached the end of my second year and began to question where my degree was going to take me and what my future was going to look like,” she shared. Nicole wanted to make a change and when a friend recommended Fleming’s Community and Justice Services program, Nicole knew it was the right fit for her.

“My experience at Fleming College was absolutely amazing! I am a very introverted person and I often find it’s difficult for me to come out of my shell, to socialize, and to participate in class discussions and activities. At Fleming, that all changed,” said Nicole. “I made wonderful friends, and the faculty in the Community and Justice Services program is indescribable. The support that I found down the Justice hallway was just incredible.”

The Fleming College graduate said her education gave her the knowledge and skills to implement her passions, including the Aboriginal Justice course which ignited her passion for Restorative Justice.

“I honestly recommend the Community and Justice Services program to someone at least on a weekly basis. The two years that I spent in the program have been the best two years of my life,” said Nicole. “I graduated feeling extremely competent and prepared to enter the workforce, and continue to learn and grow. Fleming College and the CJS program made it possible for me to find my passion and find myself.”