Our Court Support Program helps individuals involved in all five courts (Criminal, Mental Health, Drug, Youth, and Family) of the justice system. We offer advocacy and mediation to ensure First Peoples can better access the justice system and have a range of other supports to assist those wanting to start their healing journey.
The traditional justice systems of our First Peoples communities involved more holistic processes that focused on looking to resolve the root of the offences instead of direct punishments. In their healing journey, individuals are asked to give back to the communities and/or any parties they have offended, participate in circle processes to help understand the context of the offense, share feelings and thoughts, create a plan of action to start their healing journey, develop a sense of belonging in their community, and participate in addictions or other necessary counselling. This process is not an easy way out. The individual must take full responsibility for their actions, and in some cases, even have to reckon with those they have wronged face-to-face. This process can allow the victim to have closure, ask the questions they need to get a fuller understanding of their situation, receive a real, heart-felt apology and, in many cases, the assurances they need to see that the person has truly changed and has started on a new path.
Restorative justice, like that described above, has proven time and again to be more effective than punitive justice* at lowering recidivism rates, which are the rates at which individuals reoffend after release. Restorative justice is effective because it seeks to lessen the forces that drive individuals to crime, such as poverty, homelessness, unresolved trauma, mental illness, gang involvement, addictions, or learned abusive behaviours; and increase the protective factors, such as sense of belonging, community involvement, access to supports, education, and skills development to keep individuals on track. We have just started implementing these ideals to help some of most at-risk community members in the justice system, and are working to develop a full Diversion program in the future.
*the belief that severe punishment is deserved for crime
Criminal / Drug / Youth Court Support Worker: James Boppre – firstname.lastname@example.org
Family Court Support Worker: Pandora Wilhelm – email@example.com
Please check out the following links for our other supports and programs: