A La Ronge men’s support group met with, and will continue to meet with, inmates at the Besnard Correctional Camp to support them, as well as to help the inmates set up their own support group within the facility.

The Men of the North held it’s first meeting at the camp Sept 10.

The group’s founder, Christopher Merasty, said he had reached out to employees at the correctional camp in an attempt to get the program running.

He said it took a couple weeks of discussion between his group and the facilities managers before a date for the first meeting was settled on.

Merasty said he wanted to start this initiative because he thinks it could help inmates heal mentally and in turn allow them to return to normal life with an added ease once released from custody.

“They’ll be stronger when they come home, and they’ll be able to utilize it (what they’ve learned), be able to grow with it, be able to continue doing what they need to do to heal themselves for their family and for their community,” Merasty said.

Merasty added that his drive to create this initiative was also fueled by the thought that incarcerated people need support too.

“They don’t have to be the only ones struggling through certain things,” he said. “Everybody struggles through something in their lives, so if we can help and support them, whether it be in incarceration or out in the community, we need to feel like we’re not the only ones walking down these roads and doing it (struggling) alone.”

According to Merasty, around 20 inmates attended the meeting and he said they all left the session with a sense of optimism.

“They were all very interested and they were all very attuned with the direction that the meeting went and they all left with a clearer understanding and a different frame of thought,” he said.

Merasty said his group helped the inmates jumpstart their own support group within the facility which will host their first meeting Thursday evening.

He said the Men of the North group hopes to travel to the Besnard Lake facility once every two to three weeks throughout the fall to have follow-up meetings.