A flourishing restorative justice program in District 69 will present a film and information about what they do at a Nov. 18 open house during National Restorative Justice Week (Nov. 18-25).
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.
Linda Cherewyk, program coordinator for the Arrowsmith Community Justice Society (ACJS) established in 1998, explained they have two local programs — a restorative justice program that takes referrals from the public and RCMP and a community dispute resolution program.
While they have had a lot of success dealing with around 30-35 cases a year, that is mostly in restorative justice and she thinks their dispute resolution is under used by the community.
She said when both sides of an issue agree to go through the process and sit down together, “once the emotions are set aside it is quite easy to resolve.”
The most common issues are neighbour disputes where “often emotion is the first response, but once they start talking like they should have done in the first place, most results are very good.”
She said they get a lot of calls about landlord disputes, which they don’t deal with but are happy to refer people to the correct place.
This year’s Restorative Justice Week theme, “Diverse Needs: Unique Responses” recognizes an approach that addresses the needs of people impacted by crime and conflict when a person has been harmed or treated unfairly.
The goal of the annual week, recognized internationally, is to share concrete learning and results from restorative justice practitioners and stakeholders.
The ACJS will provide information about what they do at an open house on Nov. 18 at 6:30 p.m. at Knox United (345 Pym St.) with a short video of an actual conference, followed by a question and answer session.
For more information visit www.acjs.ca or call 250-954-2968 and leave a message. For more on restorative justice viisit www.csc-scc.gc.ca and click on the link on the left.
The week is also being officially recognized by the City of Parksville.