2021 Annual Report

Our CJHS Board

“My reflection on 2021 is of immense gratitude for the team at Calgary John Howard Society and the way that hope and healing is embedded in how they show up to work, each and every day.” – Alex Laidlaw

2021 was a busy year for the Board. Monthly meetings continued through a virtual platform though a few members started to attend in person in the fall when we could socially distance in the Multipurpose Room at the Gordon Sand Community Services Building.

A natural turnover occurred, and the new Board members brought new perspectives and questions to enhance our community impact. The legacy of those who left the Board continues to guide us. In 2021, the Board had presentations on Policy Governance, our Practice Framework Principles, and the Community Case Management Service program. Our Roofs for Youth Leadership Team presented research on harm reduction best and current practices and their impact in youth residential settings. At the Board retreat, Elder Ruby Eaglechild shared information about the Seven Sacred Teachings. With the knowledge from all of this learning, the Board members strengthen their capacity to guide our agency towards our ends (goals).

A Crime Survey was initiated by the Board to learn Calgarians’ values and attitudes towards crime and crime prevention. A significant and encouraging result is Calgarian’s strong support for restorative justice principles, alternative to punitive approaches and validation of crime prevention through social development. Restorative justice addresses conflict and crime by bringing together the person who caused the harm, the people who were affected by the harm, and the community to create a meaningful solution. The offender and the victims can heal during the process. The Board is excited that Calgarians value repairing damage and restoring relationships rather than punishment. CJHS is on the leading edge of this work and will continue it into the future.

Board of Directors

Don CameronChair
Manager, Wasteco National (retired)

Dr. Harpreet Aulakh, Ph.D., Secretary
Associate Professor, Department of Justice Studies, Mount Royal University

Alex Laidlaw, Vice-Chair
Impact Investment Associate, Calgary Foundation

Jeremy Yule, Treasurer
Detective, Calgary Police Service

Ashna Harjai
Lawyer, Legal Aid Alberta

Stella Penner, FCPA, FCGA
Certified Public Accountant, Stella M. Penner Professional Corporation

Roger Jaswal, MSc
Principal, Roger Strength 

From the Board:

What is your perspective on hope and healing?

Roger Jaswal

Hi, everyone, my name is Roger Jaswal and I am serving my first year on the Board of Directors of the Calgary John Howard society. Concerning specific moments that kind of bring hope and healing to our community, I really want to refer to my first foray into John Howard, which was last year, and that was working with the building bonds and the community group. What I saw was a group that created a safe space for individuals to support each other, find friendships, and be a resource for each other during challenging times. I saw many instances of where people not only were able to lean on others to find support during these challenging times, but also celebrate their triumphs to each other. And this is something that really stood out for me. So with that, thank you so much, and I look forward to meeting all of you. 

Jeremy Yule

Hello, my name is Jeremy Yule. I have served as a director on the Board of the Calgary John Howard Society since May 2020. When thinking about the amazing work of the Calgary John Howard Society over the last year, one of the memories that really stood out to me was when I had the privilege of sitting through a presentation by the Roofs for Youth leadership team. I was disturbed to hear about the epidemic of opioid related deaths which have spiked since the start of COVID. However, I felt humbled and in awe of the passion, the knowledge and experience of the Calgary John Howard Society Roofs for Youth leadership team. It was clear in the presentation that each of these troubling statistics represents a youth with a name, a character, a human being that loves and is loved.  The youth in our community need engaged leaders like those at the Calgary John Howard Society who are not afraid of the difficult discussions around harm reduction, an essential tool for recovery for our vulnerable youths.

Dr. Harpreet Aulakh

During my term as a board member for over nine years, I have been fortunate enough to hear presentations from numerous CJHS teams that work in different programs. One presentation which stood apart and continues to have a lingering personal impact is the presentation by the youth leadership team in November 2021. I am in awe of the staff working tirelessly to help youth who are struggling with drug overdoses. Witnessing and responding to fatal and near-fatal drug overdoses is sure to have an impact on all aspects of their lives but despite this, their passion, or even more-so their urge, to continue to help and support their clients brings hope and inspiration to everyone else to carry on.

Stella Penner

Thinking back on CJHS in 2021, my first thoughts go to the tremendous grace and resiliency our staff displayed in the face of huge disruptions – the continuing COVID pandemic and the devastation of increased opioid poisonings among those we serve would both have presented huge challenges separately. Coming at the same time, I don’t know how the staff continued to do what they did, but our community is better off because of their work and persistence.

Don Cameron

My name is Don Cameron. I’ve been on the Board of Calgary John Howard society for six years, and most recently as board chair. What stood out for me from 2021 was the incredible creativity and resilience of the staff at Calgary John Howard. After months of constant change with a pandemic, but also the drug problem that Calgary faces, the staff still found unique and creative ways to serve their clients. That impressed me deeply. And after what they have been through, I think the Calgary John Howard society can rise to any challenge.

Ashna Harjai

I am a criminal defence lawyer with Legal Aid Alberta. I provide legal representation to Albertans who are in custody and can’t afford legal services. After volunteering with CJHS as a member of the Board of Directors, I have realized that the law is a blunt instrument to solve human relations and psychological problems. Our society needs more organizations like CJHS who aim to heal our communities and strongly believe in restorative justice.

Thinking back over 2021, I can say that my association with CJHS has made me look at our society through a different lens, which has made me more forgiving and sensitive towards social issues. I remember attending an online meeting about safe consumption sites at CJHS. Before attending that meeting, I was not in favor of opening any safe consumption sites because they can cause a threat to the communities around them. But during this meeting I got to hear a story of a young man who died at the CJHS center due to drug overdose because he was an addict and couldn’t control himself. It made me realized that addictions can’t be treated in a day or two. In order to save these lives, we as a society needs to be more patient and strategic. Our efforts should be in the direction of guiding and supporting these individuals who have lost their paths by helping them without any prejudices and being judgmental, not to leave them alone when they need us the most.

I am glad that I have joined hands with this organization which aims to prevent crime, make our communities safer and reform the society by bringing positive changes into the lives of troubled individuals.

Alex Laidlaw

When I think back on 2021 what stands out for me is the immense amount of work and passion it takes from the team at Calgary John Howard Society to develop a culture of hope and healing. The rigor and thoughtfulness that goes into building an environment of hope and healing is reflected in the practice of framework principles, core philosophies for how we enter into this work. The spirit of hope and healing can also be felt in every chance engagement with the team, whether that is an ugly sweater party at a holiday gathering or the compassion shown in sharing the stories of those we work with in community. My reflection on 2021 is of immense gratitude for the team at Calgary John Howard Society and the way that hope and healing is embedded in how they show up to work, each and every day.