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Reconciliation through Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice is a non-adversarial, non-retributive approach to justice that emphasizes healing in victims, meaningful accountability of offenders, and the involvement of citizens in creating healthier, safer communities. This video examines Restorative Justice in the context of a First Nation healing circle.

 Transcript

PRIMARY CASE MANAGER:

Jamie is a young person who found himself in conflict with the law after an incident occurred between him and a social worker.

PATRICIA:

He was trying to get me away from the door, and that's where I got my bruises on my arms, because he kept pushing me against the filing cabinet.

When I got to the office, I was just shaking. I couldn't stop. I didn't realize how much bruising there was and everything. It was at that point, my supervisor said, "You know you're going to have to charge him."

PRIMARY CASE MANAGER:

The crown attorney felt that the young person would benefit from a healing to wellness court program.

In Jamie's particular case, he had a lot of supports, and he personally felt that he was at risk of losing those supports if he didn't acknowledge the harm that was caused.

Restorative justice was felt to be the most appropriate way to amend those relationships, to offer Jamie the opportunity to discuss how he felt, and perhaps why he behaved the way he did.

It was the most culturally appropriate and culturally sound way to deal with this justice matter.

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE CASEWORKER:

The first time I met him, we’re talking about a youth that had struggles in his life, and going through so much, and he was pretty angry.

I do an assessment with them so that I understand more about what it is that they need, and then I make the call on who will be a part of that circle.

PRIMARY CASE MANAGER:

Restorative justice offers the community the ability to give input, and to reshape relationships, and provides a space to do that where there is equality amongst all of the participants.

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE CASEWORKER:

Jamie was a little nervous, I guess, because I think this was like being able to confront the person that he had done harm with because it was a person that he knew very well.

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE CASEWORKER in circle:

I am going to do the first round and the first round, we’re just going to say our names, what it is that we are here for, what we do and pass the feather around.

So I’ll start, my name is  …

JAMIE:

I was being put into a different foster home, which I did not like. It wasn't really my decision, really. I either had to go there, or that's pretty much my only choice.

I guess my foster mom at the time needed a break from me, and I didn't really like that so …

I was saying stuff like what I felt and what things I was going through and apologizing, you know, that I'm just sorry, that it won't happen again, and that I'm got better. I'm the new Jamie. That I would do way better.

PATRICIA:

When he apologized, it was a welcome surprise for me to here. Me, and his foster mom started crying, at that point, because she's never heard it, too. It was really good to hear from him.

I was glad I was able to tell him that I loved and cared about him and that I was hoping that we would be able to repair our relationship again, and start working on goals for him. Not just for me, but goals for a better future for him.

JAMIE’S Support Person in circle:

I think it’s important that we stand behind Jamie and listen to him and continue to have open ears to how he is feeling and what he feels he needs to do to move forward.

ELDER in circle:

It’s healing he’s going through right now to be an adult, to continue, get ready for his next step of life.

PATRICIA:

He liked building. He wanted to learn how to make a drum. That was one of the recommendations that, was put in place.

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE CASEWORKER in circle:

How do you feel about what he had to share with us today?

PATRICIA:

I accepted his apology. He spoke of his difficulties in changing some of his behavior.

I was able to see him in a different light and look at him, what he was going through because he never told me before.

It was a good healing process. It ended up including the foster parent, too, which is good.

JAMIE:

I felt that it was very necessary for me to be in that circle because I knew that after everything was said and done, that I've got a second chance and then that I could keep going.

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE CASEWORKER:

When we're able to go around in circle, and hug each other, or shake hands and what not, then you know that everybody’s feeling good leaving here and that for them to be able to make amends like that to me that’s already progress.

To open up that communication, to open up that understanding, to open up that relationship again, I think, I couldn’t ask for anything more.

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