Local facilitators ready for Restorative Justice

Three facilitators from Ashcroft area attend National Restorative Justice Symposium in Kamloops

With the addition of facilitators in Ashcroft and Cache Creek, the Clinton Restorative Justice Society has expanded its Gateway Restorative Justice Program to include the communities covered by the Ashcroft and Clinton RCMP Detachments.

Over the last year we have been involved with the planning committee for the 2011 National Restorative Justice Symposium which was held at the Kamloops Convention Centre, Nov 13–15. Our program sent three facilitators to this highly successful event.

The opening and closing prayer as well as the welcoming song was given by Elder Terry Deneault. In his opening remarks, the Honourable Steven Point, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, talked about how the principals of Restorative Justice are the same as the seven Spiritual Laws. Other dignitaries included Whispering Pines Chief Michael LeBourdais, Simpcw Elder Nathan Matthew, Skeetchestn Indian Band Chief Rick Deneault, Tk’emlups Indian Band Chief Shane Gottfriedson, Kamloops RCMP Superintendent Yves Lacasse and His Worship Mayor of Kamloops Peter Milobar.

Keynote speaker Shannon Moroney very eloquently told a bit about how shortly after their marriage, her husband was arrested and charged with the brutal kidnapping and assault two women while she was out of town at a  conference. In Shannon’s book “Through The Glass: Envisioning Restorative Justice for Offender’s Families,” she talks about what she experienced due to the lack of resources and limited supports for the families of offenders. She is dedicated to see policy changes in this area.

Tuesday’s keynote speaker, Shannon Moore, an Assistant Professor of Child and Youth Studies, spoke about her experience with community based RJ programming in the area of indigenous feminist perspective with international standards of human rights.

There were numerous presentations, each reflecting this year’s theme, Re-Visioning Justice. The sessions were informative and covered topics on restorative justice in fisheries and oceans, in prisons, in schools, internet safety, youth justice, and restorative justice in the community, to name a few.

In the workshop “A Story of Healing and Hope,” Sandi Bargen and Angela Gates presented Dona Cadman and Supriya Deas, two mothers, one, who’s son killed the son of the other. Listening as they told their stories was an extremely moving experience and some people left the room. They first met years earlier in a courthouse under the most difficult of circumstances. They met again years later in a meeting facilitated by Sandi Bargen and Angela Gates, and for the first time at a National Restorative Justice Symposium they re-told their story. Their healing journey speaks to the restorative possibilities for families of both victims and offenders to be found in Restorative Justice Practices.

The symposium was wrapped up by the children of Chief Atahm School singing a travelling song for the over 300 people who attended from across Canada.

Nita Van Allen