Inmates help Santa’s Cariboo Chilcotin efforts

Williams Lake RCMP members unload one of several beds hand-crafted by inmates for First Nations communities and local organizations. - Monica Lamb-Yorki photo
Williams Lake RCMP members unload one of several beds hand-crafted by inmates for First Nations communities and local organizations.
— image credit: Monica Lamb-Yorki photo

Members of the Williams RCMP were out in full force Wednesday morning unloading a truckload of gifts and furniture, made by inmates for boys and girls in the Cariboo Chilcotin.

Thanks to a partnership between the Punky Lake Wilderness Society and Corrections Services Canada, inmates from correction facilities around the province handcrafted enough beds, shelves, warm blankets, winter wear and toys to fill a large transport truck to the brim.

The goods are destined for First Nations communities in the Cariboo Chilcotin and other services organizations in Williams such as the Child Development Centre.

“This is the fifth shipment we’ve received but it’s the biggest by far,” said Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society executive director Sarah Jackman, as the truck pulled up to a warehouse on Mackenzie Avenue.

“When I visited with some of the inmates in October they were already excitedly planning for Christmas.”

Some of the inmates — mostly males — have even been sewing star blankets and knitting hats and mitts.

“Who would have known they’d be great at sewing and knitting,” Jackman smiled.

And some companies, hearing about the project, got on board and donated mitts and toques as well.

A second truck with a flatbed contained stacks of hand-crafted garden sheds.

One, measuring eight by 16 feet was destined for the school at Yunesit’in (Stone Indian Band) and another for the Anaham trapline.

Jackman said the program is only a year old.

“We just started talking about it last fall.”

Crediting Brian Lang, district director with Corrections Canada, with the idea, Jackman said Lang’s idea was to keep prisoners occupied in a good way.

“Brian wanted to provide them with skills they could use for employment and benefit communities that could use a hand by giving back to them.”

Jackman met Lang on an unrelated issue and he asked her if she would partner with him.


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