What is Restorative Justice?
Restorative Justice is an approach that views crime and conflict principally as harm done to people and relationships. It strives to provide support and safe opportunities for the voluntary participation and communication between those affected (victims, offenders, and community) to encourage accountability, reparation, and movement towards understanding, feelings of satisfaction, healing, safety and a sense of closure.
Fort William First Nation Restorative Justice Program integrates the culturally appropriate practices embracing the Circle and Healing & Wellness Plan, taken the individual out of the mainstream court system and given them the opportunity to make change with the support of the community.
The program focuses on a system of accountability, making amends and healing. The program will formally engage community members, including Elders, Youth, Traditional resource people, victims of crime and perpetrators in a culturally-appropriate, community led Restorative Justice Program.
The focus is on pre and post-charge diversion which will include Alternative dispute resolution circles, pre and post-charge programs utilizing elders and Traditional resources, Aftercare, reintegration support and referral process for participants to existing services in addition to those developed in the community.
The program supports the revitalization of Indigenous Community Legal Traditions while providing support and alternative paths forward to those in pre and post charge situations.
How is Restorative Justice Applied?
Restorative Justice views crime as a violation of people and relationships. Restorative Justice is an approach that seeks to determine who has been hurt, what their needs are, and how these needs can be addressed. Restorative Justice uses processes that are collaborative and inclusive to all parties affected- victim, offender and community.
Restorative Justice processes include but are not limited to:
- Victim-Offender Mediation
- Restorative Conferencing
- Circle Processes
What are the Benefits of Restorative Justice Processes?
Victims can tell their story; be certain the offender understands the impact; find answers to questions; hold the offender accountable; and if possible, identify what can be done to repair the harm.
Offenders can tell their story; accept responsibility for and acknowledge the harm caused; hear how their behaviour affected others; and participate in determining how to repair the harm.
Communities can be empowered to gain a better understanding of the root causes of crime, engage in a process to express and reduce their fears, and contribute to an understanding of the wider impact of crime.
The Circle Process:
The Circle is a way of talking together in which all of us…
- Are respected and treated equally
- Have the opportunity to speak without interruption
- Tell our own stories
- Speak and listen in a deeper, more heartfelt way
Values underlying circles:
- Mutual concern & respect shared responsibility
- Consensual decision-making personal accountability
- Appreciation of differences equal opportunity
- Voluntary direct participation personal & community values
- Interconnectedness wholistic approach
- Focus on interests & meaning flexibility
Circles can be used to:
- Achieve greater mutual understanding
- Develop a spirit of cooperation and collaborative skills
- Work through differences, difficult issues, painful experiences
- Make decisions together, building consensus
- Repair, heal, and build relationships and a sense of community
- Develop agreements that bring resolution and closer
- Plan for the future
- Ritualize or symbolize connections, transitions, significant change
*Participation in the Circle is voluntary. Circles are confidential; what is said, heard and seen in the Circle stays in the circle. In the Circle we are all equal.
Who can refer to the Restorative Justice Program?
- Parents & Individuals
- Community Resource Workers
- Chief and Council
- Probation Officers
- Police Officers
- Community Legal Workers
- Duty Counsel
- Crown Attorneys
Renee Pervais, Restorative Justice Coordinator/Facilitator