What volunteering we Offer:
Currently in our local area AVP is being offered at Ferndale Institution, which is a minimum security prison for federally sentenced men. We have “mini” workshops (3 hours long) twice per month at Ferndale and regular full-length 3-day intensive workshops throughout the year.
There is also an AVP project at the Fraser Valley Institution for Women (FVI), which is a multi-level prison for federally sentenced women.FVI offers mini workshops once per month and is developing extended workshops as the group evolves.
In 2011, we partnered with the John Howard Society of the Fraser Valley, to build community workshops for those on parole and community AVP members. These mini workshops are run once a month and are run from the John Howard Society office in Abbotsford (*currently on hold and being reorganized--we need volunteers!).
A similar project has been developed in Vancouver/Burnaby, where we hold mini’s once per month at a local library or public space. Often these community mini’s are critical support points for persons leaving institutions on parole, and for our other volunteers wishing to stay involved in creating a safer community for all.Our Community minis are open to the public, so feel to bring a family member or friend!
For dates and schedules, please check our Calender!
Our Local History
We are still in the process of collecting and telling our creation story...
However, we know that our local AVP group was founded first at Mission Institution around 20 years ago, by a group of amazing and passionate people, one of whom was the late Liz Elliot, a mentor to many still involved with AVP. AVP then progressed through many challenges and experiences, to become the large group of between 40-60 active and veteran AVP'ers that we are today. We represent all age groups and religious or ethnic backgrounds, different education levels, and experiences, and all sexual orientations, and we feel this only enriches our community. Our experiences through AVP have deepened the meaning in our lives and helped us grow. Many of us may take time out for our busy lives, but we are a community that grows together throughout the years, and anyone previously involved is invited back and never forgotten.
Our Training and Screening Process
Given that AVP can be an emotionally deep experience and often takes place in a correctional setting, all prospective volunteers wishing to participate and join the AVP community are interviewed and screened.
We start with a welcome letter that sets out AVP’s goals and an overview of our community. After, we have volunteers view a standardized questionnaire aimed at revealing the pertinent issues we feel are important to our program and to the correctional setting, such as expectations, intentions of participation, emotional needs, respect, and personal boundaries. An experienced coordinator then meets with the prospective volunteer and confidentially discusses the answers, issues, and answer any questions the participant may have.
The interview lasts between 1-3 hours depending on the individual and the issues that arise. Based on this interview, a coordinator may decide to accept or defer a candidate. After being accepted, we usually start a volunteer either in the correctional or community setting with a “mentor”—an experienced AVP volunteer who will support the new volunteer and debrief with them on their early experiences.
In addition, If you desire to volunteer within our prison programs at Ferndale orThe Fraser Valley Institution for Federally sentenced Women, you will have to complete Correctional Services of Canada volunteer forms and complete their volunteer training as well as a local site tour.
While this seems daunting, the rewards are plentiful!
Please check out our Contact and our Documents Pages if you would like to volunteer with us!
Coming to a Mini Meeting: What to Expect and Guidelines
AVP minis run for 3 hours. They are similar to restorative justice based dialogue circles, that are centered around a topic created by the facilitation team scheduled for that evening. We use an AVP Manual that sets out a basic agenda structure. We begin at the location usually with drinks and snacks as a social greeting, then open the circle with an introduction, an opening circle question and exercises that related to the chosen topic, and debrief each component with the group. We end with a closing session, often based on the new understandings gained and an emotional check-in for the night. We break halfway through the session for coffee and treats.
Basic rules of conduct apply in all our meeting sessions. AVP is inherently a socially connecting project, but we ask that all participants come with the sincere desire to work on themselves and maintain an open mind to all others lived experiences. We ask that confidentiality be maintained, encourage all voices and opinions to be heard, uphold the right to "pass", and encourage all to deeply listen with their hearts and support one another in creating a more peaceful and insightful community.