North Peace Justice Society Co-ordinator Michelle LaBoucane explains that victims, offenders and the community all work together to find resolutions and ways to reduce crime.
“Restorative justice is about giving all parties involved in a conflict the opportunity to take an active role in a safe, respectful process, that allows for open dialogue between the victim, offender, and the community.”
Instead of turning to the court system, the philosophy views crime and conflict as harm done to people and relationships, and emphasizes healing victims, holding offenders accountable, and involving citizens.
This theme of this year’s Restorative Justice Week is “inspiring innovation”, which LaBoucane says she hopes will motivate those using the approach to find new ways to contribute.
“In an ever evolving world of competing demands, it is imperative that any field employ innovative approaches in order to remain current and relevant,” she argues. “The theme “inspiring innovation” encourages us to share and draw from leadind edge examples of restorative justice as an inspired approach to justice.”
Locally, the Restorative Justice Program runs on a budget of approximately $100,000 annually, with one full-time and one part-time employee. It received a $24,000 permissive tax exemption from the City of Fort St. John this year, and is waiting to hear back from the Province about a gaming grant.