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Adult 'students on the inside' give back to Surrey Schools


Queen Elizabeth Continuing Education (QECE) principal Doug Litke displays woodworking projects made by inmates at Surrey Pretrial. The district has a partnership with Surrey Pretrial, where â'students on the inside’ create drum frames, knitting looms and bentwood boxes to be used by students in Surrey and White Rock schools.

A continued partnership between Queen Elizabeth Continuing Education (QECE) and the Surrey Pretrial Services Centre is providing inmates a way to contribute to student learning in the district.

For the last two years, "students on the inside" at Surrey Pretrial's award-winning woodshop have worked to create drum frames, knitting looms and bentwood boxes for students in Continuing Education's Aboriginal carving program.

Doug Litke, principal of QECE and the corrections program, said the collaboration started as a way to enhance Surrey Pretrial's educational programming while benefiting students throughout the district. Many items built for the Indigenous carving program go to elementary and secondary students throughout Surrey and White Rock.

"A lot of people have no idea that this connection is even there," he said. "This is a really positive connection and these guys are doing something really great for the school district."

When Litke approached Surrey Pretrial with the idea of creating a community connection with Surrey Schools, he said they were fully supportive. Surrey Pretrial supplies the materials and labour to make the drum frames, looms and boxes, which allows schools to allocate funds for other student needs and create more opportunities for students to participate in cultural activities.

"They know they are creating something that is going to help a student be part of a bigger program," he said.

While the number of students in remand fluctuates as they await trial, Litke said there is a common desire to  give back.

"They take such pride in what they make, they're so happy that their creations can be used by the students," he said. "I think it's a part of their own personal growth.

"For many of them, they see the need to repay society in a way. Regardless of whether they are guilty or not guilty, they find ways where they want to better themselves, and part of that is doing something kind for others."

In response , Litke wants to give back to them with his gratitude.

"We're quite thankful for this partnership," he said, "and by showcasing this, it's kind of our way of saying thank you to them."

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