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Simran Badhan: Bail Worker
“The hardest part of my job is seeing, every single day, the real impact of systemic racism and the long term effects of the residential school system and institutionalization...but so much is possible when approaching someone in great need with genuine positivity and empathy. It just takes caring, and a commitment to invest in people without judgement, no matter what.”
The Elizabeth Fry Society of Manitoba is located on Winnipeg’s Selkirk Avenue, in a neighborhood with some of the highest poverty and crime rates in the country. Their door is always open to women involved in the provincial or federal justice system — which means needs are high, hours long, resources scarce.
Simran Badhan, who’s run the Bail Verification and Supervision Program for the past two years, says most of us could hardly imagine the challenges her clients have faced their whole lives.
“The hardest part of my job is seeing, every single day, the real impact of systemic racism and the long term effects of the residential school system and institutionalization.”
Almost all of Elizabeth’s Fry’s clients are Indigenous. Almost all struggle with mental health and addictions and are victims of marginalization. Most are mothers.
“The thing is, once women are involved in the criminal justice system, many of these barriers become even greater,” Simran says. “Once you are released from the Women’s Correctional Centre or Winnipeg Remand Centre, where will you go? We help with reintegration. That means helping them secure everything from housing to clothing to identification documents. We’ve even started to create food hampers.”
They also offer a wide range of counseling, from living with addictions and grief and loss, to anger management. They also offer a domestic violence program, including the Sisterhood Circle that’s there for families who need immediate help.
Simran says her involvement with onsite transitional housing for women who are awaiting trial in courts means she’s on-call pretty much all day and night.
“Our clients are vulnerable. We’re on call 24/7 with our bail program and sometimes must report to work if someone needs immediate assistance. We as staff with lived experiences also face vicarious trauma while helping clients. There’s not enough funding and the needs are just so great. So there are times when you feel you maybe need some support yourself.”
What keeps Simran going is seeing the difference the right supports can make.
“When you build a strong, respectful relationship with a woman, when you see them grow after so much struggle, that is the most amazing, rewarding experience. So much is possible when approaching someone in great need with genuine positivity and empathy. It just takes caring, and a commitment to invest in people without judgement, no matter what.”