When Sav Bains’ wife attended a local job fair, she brought him along with her. Little did Sav know that he was about to land a career in corrections that would eventually lead to him becoming the Correctional Service of Canada’s (CSC) first Turbaned Sikh warden, a highly respected executive, and a celebrated member of the Sikh community in British Columbia.
“I didn’t expect this all to happen” says Sav. “I just tagged along with my wife that day and here I am fifteen years later!”
Over the course of the years, Sav has worked in a variety of positions starting as a correctional officer at Matsqui Institution. From there he has held management positions at various institutions out west, as well as positions at regional and national headquarters in Ottawa. Sav also completed CSC’s Executive Leadership Development Program, after which he was successful in an executive competitive process. Sav is now the warden of Fraser Valley Institution in Abbottsford, British Columbia.
What is it that keeps Sav here after all these years? That’s simple, he says.
“I truly believe in the work we do here in corrections. We are contributing to public safety by preparing offenders to be reintegrated into the community. It’s important work, and work that I enjoy educating the public about.”
During his time with CSC, Sav has taken it upon himself to stay connected with the communities in which he’s worked. He enjoys talking with members of the public about what CSC does, how it does it, and why. As is the case in most areas of the country, there are a number of misconceptions about corrections and how CSC operates. Addressing those misconceptions and providing information to those interested is an ongoing responsibility that Sav is happy to have.
“Maintaining a dialogue with our communities is important,” he says. “It’s important because we need to clear up confusion and respond to the curiosity that exists about what we do.”
In fact, says Sav, the local BC communities where he works, as well as resides, are particularly interested in learning about CSC. Right now there are significant issues with a portion of Indo-Canadian youth going down the wrong path toward crime and incarceration, typically through gang affiliations. That’s why Sav has taken an active role in speaking at various forums, particularly with local youth at risk about corrections, and by showing through his own actions and presence in the community, that there are other options for young people. It’s a responsibility that Sav does not take lightly, but is happy to have if it makes a difference.
“I never saw myself as a role model per se,” says Sav. “But in my local Sikh community, people who have made their way up to important positions are very respected and celebrated, particularly if they’ve accomplished something as a ‘first’. Being the first Sikh Turbaned Warden in CSC is an accomplishment that I’m very proud of. I hope that in maintaining my ties with the community and setting an example for the kids at risk, I can inspire them to seek other ways of living their lives outside of crime, and concentrating on pursuing career goals and making a difference.”
Sav officially took over responsibility of Fraser Valley Institution on December 20, 2016 at a formal Change of Command Ceremony attended by the Commissioner of CSC. It was a powerful moment in Sav’s career – one that he looks forward to working in for many years to come.
“I’ve got a lot of years in corrections left but right now I’m happy being warden and learning every day.”