The new Edmonton Remand Centre opened in 2013. It is a multi-purpose 1,952-bed correctional facility for male and female inmates awaiting trial, sentenced offenders with further charges, parolees who are suspended or revoked, inmates awaiting transfer to appropriate provincial and federal institutions and those held under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The Remand Centre covers an area of about 28 football fields. It is divided up into 28 units. Presently we have approximately 1,700 inmates.
My day begins with checking phone messages. Today, there were seven messages.
There were a few calls from a sister of one of the inmates who was frantic to reach her brother to let him know that their mother had passed away during the night. I called her back to reassure her that a message will be relayed to her brother to contact her so that she can break the news to him. I would make myself available to counsel and pray with him. Another call was from a fiancée of an inmate who wanted to know whether they can be married at the Edmonton Remand Centre. A call from the psychologist department wondered if I could go and see an inmate who is very worried about his girlfriend who is missing. Another call from a friend of an inmate who wanted to pass the message on that the wife of this inmate was in a car accident and is in the emergency unit at the hospital. A call from a brother of an inmate wanting to pass a message on that their mother is dying in hospital. All these phone messages have to be passed on to the inmates concerned. The officers on the units are very helpful in passing on messages for the inmates to call home when there is an emergency.
Today, I went to follow up on an inmate in the Mental Health Unit. Her mother died a week ago and she was not allowed to go to the funeral because it was being held in another province. I offered her a memorial service and she said she would like that.
I also followed up requests from inmates to see a chaplain.
A chaplain’s day at the Edmonton Remand Centre is hectic but I always come away enriched and blessed by the people I see: the inmates, the officers and the staff. Providence of God, I thank you for all.
Toyleen Fook, SP, Prison Chaplain