A New Identity
The Seventh Step Society of Canada
As a Seventh Step member for 38 years, I recently reflected on my life journey, while applying the Seven Steps to Freedom. My story began as a college student in Calgary in 1973 while enrolled in the Applied Social Sciences/Correctional Careers program at Mount Royal College. I was offered a practicum with Seventh Step, supervised by the John Howard Society as the organization was in its infancy in Alberta and was looking for broader exposure. The Self Help concept was new to me but had particular relevance as I had been a young offender at 16 and 17 years old, having been convicted on 2 occasions of property offences and sentenced to incarceration plus probation. Following these sentences and fortunately having the support of family and friends, I was able to continue with my education and was taking steps toward a career in Criminal Justice, having learned some hard lessons from my previous experiences.
I quickly found that Seventh Step was a way of life and a positive road map for living. Participation in the self-help groups assisted me to develop leadership skills and gave me a sense of purpose while pursuing a career and raising a family. I worked closely with the founder of the Alberta Seventh Step Society – Mr. Pat Graham, along with a group of dedicated volunteers to obtain funding and establish the organizations as an agency which today is seen a valuable partner in the Community Corrections network. I left the organization as a paid senior staff member in 1982 to pursue a new career in the Oil and Gas business and was able to apply many of the management and communications skills I had gained while I was involved with The Seventh Step Society. I subsequently always maintained my volunteer involvement with the organization, however, as a core group member and board member of both the Alberta Seventh Step Society and The Seventh Step Society of Canada. I have participated in many group meetings in the community and institutions over the years and always feel a sense of renewal at the end of a “hot seat” when I see a spark of hope and enlightenment from an offender or ex-offender who has just gone through the process of facing the truth about themselves. I also realize that I have gained new insights about myself and my own life journey through this process.
Seventh Step isn’t for everyone, but for those people who have a sincere desire to change and better themselves, it is a definite formula for success. We believe that everyone is capable of change and continue to nurture the organization to create the opportunity for those who are willing to take the first step.