Where it all began
Between 2005 and 2007, our founder, Mo Korchinski was involved in a participatory health research project while incarcerated at Alouette Correctional Centre for Women (ACCW), the provincial prison for women in British Columbia. The project centered the voices and experiences of women who were incarcerated, and aimed to address and improve health outcomes for women facing incarceration. The need for greater supports at release was identified as a significant need. It became clear that so many women being released from prison had no idea how to take the first steps to change their lives; the first 3 days following released was a “make it or break it situation” for women.
“Without food, clothing or shelter, you go right back to the lifestyle you know.” Mo Korchinski, founder
In 2011, Unlocking the Gates Services Society (UTG) started as a 6 month pilot project out of ACCW to address the barriers for women in the immediate post-release period. Since UTG has grown to serve individuals incarcerated at both men and women’s provincial and federal facilities across the province of BC.
UTG is made possible because of its deep commitment to always be a life line for people leaving prison. UTG peer-mentors plant seeds of hope and change, by meeting individuals where they are at, and letting them know they are worth it.
Unlocking the Gates Society is only able to continue this work through ongoing support and funding from the First Nations Health Authority, alongside research grants, and private donors.
We have big dreams for the future of UTG, we know that solutions cannot start and end in the days following release from incarceration. We want to expand our focus to preventative programming with a focus on youth, and services that are culturally safe, address trauma and promote healing between families. Through this we hope to address the stigma that surrounds people who have been incarcerated.