Sawinder (Sav) Singh Bains was appointed as the Warden of Fraser Valley Institution in Abbotsford on last July. Bains got into corrections by chance. His wife was attending a local job fair and she decided to bring him along with her. Little did Bains 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 Bains. “I just tagged along with my wife that day and here I am fifteen years later!”
Photos By Jason Warner Medial and Communications officer for Pacific Region Correctional Service of Canada
By R. Paul Dhillon
With News Files From CSC
SURREY – The Correctional Service of Canada has appointed the first Turbaned Sikh Warden to be the institutional head of a federal prison in Canada.
Sawinder (Sav) Singh Bains was appointed as the Warden of Fraser Valley Institution in Abbotsford on last July.
Bains has a Bachelor degree from Simon Fraser University and began his career with CSC in 2002 as a Correctional Officer at Matsqui Institution.
Bains got into corrections by chance. His wife was attending a local job fair and she decided to bring him along with her.
Little did Bains 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 Bains. “I just tagged along with my wife that day and here I am fifteen years later!”
On December 20, 2016 a Change of Command Ceremony took place at Fraser Valley Institution where the Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada Don Head officially handed the responsibility of Fraser Valley Institution to Bains.
The Regional Management Committee, Deputy Commissioner for Women, and various Senior Executives were in attendance to witness the ceremony. The Change of Command ceremony is a formal, symbolic passing of responsibility, authority, and accountability of command from one leader to another.
Over the course of the years, Bains 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. He 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 Bains 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, Bains 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 Bains 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 Bains, 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 Bains 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 he 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 Bains. “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.”
Bains officially took over responsibility of Fraser Valley Institution last Decemver at a formal Change of Command Ceremony attended by the Commissioner of CSC. It was a powerful moment in his 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.”
The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) is the federal government agency responsible for administering sentences of a term of two years or more, as imposed by the courts. CSC is responsible for managing institutions of various security levels and supervising offenders under conditional release in the community.
The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) is a key partner in public safety. On a typical day, the CSC manages approximately 15,000 offenders placed within 43 institutions and more than 8,500 offenders under supervision in the community. The CSC is building a strong, vibrant, and diverse team of professionals. CSC has been widely recognized as an international leader in correctional justice.
The Pacific Region of the Correctional Service of Canada operates 8 federal institutions, including one facility for women offenders, a Community Correctional Centre and five parole areas in British Columbia including the Yukon Territory.