A History of Change

EFry was founded in 1939 by a small group of volunteers dedicated to transforming conditions for women and girls in custody.  Since then, EFry has grown to an organization of 100 staff and over 300 volunteers. We've succeeded in establishing female prisoners' rights to single gender detention facilities; winning acceptance for in-prison schooling; founding Vancouver's methadone program and developing community alternatives to prison which have been adopted nationwide.

Today, EFry provides support across the spectrum of justice system involvement – from  at risk through incarceration to the transition back to independent living.  We have expanded our focus to include the children of our clients at every stage of this risk continuum. In particular, supporting the children of prisoners is a key priority for EFry. Left unaddressed, these innocents often follow in their parents' footsteps and become prisoners themselves.  But it doesn't have to be that way.

EFry has built our history on identifying the needs of the marginalized and creating solutions to fill the voids. We opened Canada's first shelter for women and their children, and the first non-governmental group home for youth.  We are a founding member of the Canadian Association of Residential Options for Women (CARO), through which we share our gender expertise to support improved access for women transitioning from prison to residential facilities near their homes, families and communities

To assist marginalized women in gaining long-tem employment, EFry developed the Bridges Program, a training initiative that has been adopted as a Government of Canada employment strategy. We created Women Working Wonders, a literacy-to-employment program.

EFry was the first Elizabeth Fry Society in Canada.  Today, the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies has 25 member associations across the country.