Hundreds of thousands of Canadians have old criminal records. The barriers these individuals face are manifold and wide ranging. It keeps folks who have already completed their sentences and paid back their debt to society from contributing meaningfully to their community and moving on from past harm. And the impacts of this marginalization are felt by individuals, families, and entire communities.
For many people living with a criminal record the current record suspension system is out of reach. We have heard from mothers who have old records stemming from historic situations of intimate partner abuse who now cannot participate in their children’s school trips. We have heard from individuals who are still facing barriers due to minor old convictions that happened decades ago, when they were teenagers. And we have heard from people with decades-old unpaid fines, often for very small amounts, who are not even eligible for record suspensions because they didn’t know their fines were outstanding. All these people are trying to get jobs, volunteer, support their families and communities.
Here are just a few of their stories about their experiences with criminal records, and their efforts to move beyond their past.
This is Kimberly
Kimberly left behind everything she knew to start a new life after decades of physical abuse. But her traumatic history included a criminal record that created roadblocks to moving on.
This is Tom
When Tom was 19 or 20, he tried to steal someone’s bicycle. That minor conviction has cost him job opportunities and income for the last 30 years.
This is Lyne
Lyne kicked a devastating drug addiction and now helps others in recovery. But a criminal record from her past is still holding her back.
This is Liana
Liana freed herself from alcoholism years ago. But the fallout from one night of drinking more than a decade ago just won’t let go.
This is Scott
Scott has almost thirty years of experience in his field, but employers won’t look past his decade-old criminal record.