Men of the North is getting $820,000 to help formerly incarcerated individuals with employment opportunities.

Christopher Merasty, founder of Men of the North, said that the program first began in 2020. “I started this program in 2020, and we have been helping men in our community of Lac La Ronge, the Besnard Lake Correctional Camp, as well as the Cigar Lake mine site, with additional support and services and a place for individuals to come and communicate,” he explained.

The organization’s recent investment comes from the Northpine Foundation, a private family foundation that focuses on investing in underserved and underinvested communities across Canada. Over the next three years, the new funding will help to expand Men of the North into other communities as well as provide mental health support and services, and employment training for those facing barriers to employment.

“Our aim is to reduce recidivism rates and foster positive pathways that empower individuals to become productive, resilient members of society,” said Merasty.  “Through our program, participants will experience healing, personal growth, and empowerment, acquiring essential skills such as knowledge and self-confidence that will position them as leaders, role models, and contributors in our community.”

Moving forward, Men of the North plans to collaborate with educational departments as well as training departments to offer more sustainable certified training for individuals who need employment. The program hopes to be able to have job opportunities open to participants upon completion of the program.

Men of the North is also attempting to strengthen ties with SGI to provide individuals with access to and the ability to obtain their driver’s licenses, which will allow them to access and obtain employment opportunities. “With this funding, we’re hoping to hire staff, get a program coordinator, administrative staff, and have access to our own facility in the near future. Once we have those established and in place, we’re going to look at how we can implement a reintegration program that is sustainable and suitable for our programming,” Merasty said.

The Men of the North plan to have their new changes implemented by the end of the year.