Book Clubs for Inmates (BCFI) is supported by over 80 volunteers who generously donate their time as book club facilitators, parolee support, readers, and others who have found a variety of ways to share their talents with BCFI.
Louise joined BCFI in Sept 2016 as a book club facilitator at Joliette Institution for Women, and has now taken on the additional role of Reading Team Coordinator, heading a team of dedicated readers who produce our new reading list every year.
“As a young adult my choices for further education wavered between English Literature and Criminology. Ultimately my path took a slightly different turn and I ended up with a BA in Sociology from McGill University and after graduation took the surprising step of joining the family business, where I still am today, building a career which has nothing to do whatsoever with literature, criminology nor sociology. It’s a decision I often question. But my lifelong love for books and reading have always remained very strong. When an opportunity to become a volunteer for BCFI arose, combining my two interests of literature and criminology, I knew I had found something that would become very dear to my own heart. What I didn’t know when I first started was that the incarcerated women in my book club would teach me so many important life lessons, more so than I could ever teach them.
We talk about books in a room where judgement has no place. Past mistakes have no place (and every one of us has made mistakes). It’s not about the coffee and desserts; it’s about listening, REALLY listening to each other, having compassion, and understanding and acceptance. It’s about sharing different points of view in a respectful setting. It’s about connecting with people from different walks of life, different upbringings, and different cultures, and realizing that they are not that different from you and me.
I began my work as a volunteer for BCFI thinking I was going to be giving back to society but instead BCFI has given me the tools to be a better person. It’s not about books, although the books help to guide us. It’s about people, and people matter no matter where they live, and where they live does not define who they are.”