Programs & Services


The Elizabeth Fry Society of Northwestern Ontario provides programs, services and advocacy to assist women and gender diverse people who are involved in the criminal justice system, at risk of criminalization or who are homeless. One-on-one support and group programs are aimed at helping clients integrate into the community while they work toward achieving more independence.

Our staff help women and gender diverse people navigate court procedures, access housing and mental health and addiction services as well as food, clothing and other essential items. We have been providing services and extensive programming exclusively to criminalized women in Thunder Bay since 2003. In recent years, we have extended our services to include transgendered, non-binary and Two Spirit individuals.

Our staff attend the Correctional Centre several times a week to provide individual advocacy and diverse recreational and therapeutic programming. As many crucial support services are found outside correctional institutions, successful reintegration is facilitated by establishing meaningful connections with the community. Our organization works alongside women to ensure they have the support system they need to restore their lives upon release.

Are you in conflict with the law? Are you looking for support to avoid involvement in the justice system? Are you healing from an experience related to the justice system? Are you incarcerated and need support? Reach out to Elizabeth Fry Society today and start walking the path towards rebuilding your life.

We offer the following services in the Thunder Bay area:

Court Support

We provide information and assistance to clients charged with criminal offenses to facilitate their participation in the criminal justice system. We support clients through court processes, accessing legal representation, bail procedures, trials and sentencing hearings and make referrals to social services and mental health agencies that may be of assistance. We attend court with women and gender diverse individuals who request support at their court appearances and we assist the court in understanding each person’s social history.We attend court with women and gender diverse individuals who request support at their court appearances and we assist the court in understanding each person’s social history.

Visitation at Correctional Centre and Release Planning

We visit women and gender diverse people incarcerated at the Thunder Bay Correctional Centre to conduct one-on-one visits to assess their needs, connect them with counselling or treatment and begin release planning. We work alongside clients towards the creation of a holistic discharge plan. We identify their specific needs and how best to address them. This can include: basic income, housing, transportation, counselling for trauma/ addiction / mental health issues, and connection with cultural programs. We provide discharge kits and act as a liaison between agencies and clients. Maintaining contact and connection with clients upon release increases their chances of a successful reintegration.

Systemic Advocacy

We advocate on behalf of criminalized women and gender diverse people at a systemic level by addressing the underlying issues. We do this work through various public forums and committees and as members of the Council of Elizabeth Fry Societies of Ontario and the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies. We also conduct inspections of Correctional Centres in Northwestern Ontario to investigate the conditions of confinement and any human rights concerns brought forward by inmates. These concerns are brought forward to the Superintendents of the Correctional Centre and to the Solicitor General in a formal report with recommendations for change.

Weekly Events

We have created a space for our clients to gather, make use of the resources and to participate in varied programs. The Drop In may involve special events, such as facilitated arts and crafts, a ceremony led by an Elder or screening a film. We post notice of these special events on our face book page and on our office door.

This is our weekly schedule:
Monday – Drop In – 11a.m. – 2 p.m.
Tuesday – Drop In – 11a.m. – 2 p.m.
Wednesday- Drop In- 11a.m. – 1 p.m.; Walking Group -1 pm to 2 pm
Thursday – Food Bag Day
Fridays – Community Outreach, Drop In closed

System Navigators

Elizabeth Fry System Navigators assist clients find affordable, sustainable housing and access necessary social programs and mental health and addiction services. They work with clients to identify areas of concern, consider their options and to implement a plan to address their needs.

Food Security

The Elizabeth Fry Society operates a food bank every Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., from our office at 705 East Victoria Ave. Clients may attend once every two weeks to get a bag of groceries which includes fresh produce, meat and dairy. During the warmer months we offer outdoor pop-up food banks in local parks. In addition to food, clients are welcome to select clothing from our used clothing collection. Clients are also offered a warm beverage and a snack during drop-in hours from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 on Mondays and Tuesdays and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Transition House

We provide short term transitional housing for up to 4 homeless and gender diverse individuals in a 4-bedroom, shared apartment. Occupants are allowed to reside there until they find long term housing or for up to a year, while working on an individualized service plan to help them become more independent. For more information, contact our office at 623-1319.

Correctional Centre Programs

We offer a variety of programs for women and gender diverse people at the Thunder Bay Correctional Centre such as arts and crafts and Speakers School. Our volunteers are actively involved in facilitating some of these programs, including meditation and mindfulness classes, yoga and the book club. Some programs provide job skills and a certificate such as Safe Food Handling while others like the Social Services Information Day enable clients to make direct connections with a wide range of service providers who can assist them in integrating back into the community. Through all of these programs, the Elizabeth Fry Society is building bridges from the institution into the community.

To learn more about our programs and services or to request assistance contact us at: