Volunteer Spotlight: Emily Parr

VOLUNTEER BOOK CLUB FACILITATOR

Na-Me-Res, Ontario 

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I became involved with Book Clubs for Inmates through a close friend who worked for BCFI. After photographing a fundraising event and meeting several former book club members, I was very eager to join one myself.

The highlight of the book club, for me, are the engaged, honest, and relevant conversations we have. With every book we are all learning something new, or at least, new ways to communicate life experiences.

The biggest surprise was the book club becoming a highlight of my month. I feel very grateful to Na-Me-Res for having us in their space, and to the guys for co-creating an environment where different experiences can be shared, respected, and learnt from.

My favourite book was The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline, which is set in a future Ontario where Indigenous people are being hunted for their bone marrow. Being able to discuss dreams, spirit, landscapes ravaged by colonialism, and the resistance of Indigenous people was both cathartic and empowering for our members.

If you are thinking about volunteering, go for it! You will be facilitating a vital space for incarcerated (or formerly incarcerated) people, as well as learning all kinds of things about how the world works, especially in areas you might not usually have access to. In a system that believes shutting people away will heal them (and those they may have harmed), breaking down barriers and finding common ground is of great importance.