Restorative Justice in Small Communities
Starting from the ground up?
Small communities with the goal of starting a restorative justice program are often at a loss.
Community need is there, a desire to support and build the framework may also be there, but without knowing how to start of where to go for supports, it is not an easy task.
Fairview Community Restorative Justice has been an active program since October 2006 but the real ground work started with the Well Community Action Association (WCAA).
The WCAA evolved out of the High Risk Kids Workshop that was held in Fairview in 2000. This workshop was highly attended by a wide sector of the community that included representatives from of agencies, organizations, schools, municipal governments, services clubs, RCMP, business and interested individuals. The workshop was designed to have community members’ work together to assess their community’s strengths and weaknesses.
Over the next 6 years many hours of work were put into policies, procedures, a visions and missions. A Restorative Justice committee was established and Fairview Community Restorative Justice was formed.
In 2006 14 facilitators were trained in Victim Offender Mediation. In 2009, Community Justice Forums training was added to the restorative justice repertoire.Which process we use, is determined by what is most suitable for each individual case. We currently have 16 Volunteer Facilitators and a Coordinator.
Determining what restorative process best suited Fairview, finding affordable training and on going supports was difficult.
The Nanaimo Restorative Justice Program in BC Canada, helped us through some of our initial growing pains, but as they're provincial policies and program structure were different many of the questions required more research.
JJ Beauchamp, Innisfails Restorative Justice Society Coordinator provided support with training and shared the essence of restorative justice through stories of healing and transformation.
Alberta now has a provincial Restorative Justice Association (ARJA) . http://www.arjassoc.ca/
Alberta Restorative Justice Mission Statement:
The Alberta Restorative Justice Association is committed to being a collective voice to strengthen Restorative Justice in Alberta communities by establishing and providing information, education and awareness towards best practices in Restorative Justice.
For all programs, The Alberta Restorative Justice Association Website is a valuable tool.
For small community programs starting out and looking for supports, Mary Bracken, FCRJ's Coordinator would be happy to share information and support.
We still have lots to learn but we are not alone.
"The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just."
For more information on Restorative Justice contact:
Mary Bracken FCRJ Coordinator
Office located in FCSS
10316-109 street(Safety and Audits Building Main Floor)
Fairview, Alberta CANADA