The week is recognized in Canada and throughout the World to give residents an understanding of the role of community accountability programs that offer an alternative to the traditional justice system for individuals involved with minor incidents in the community.
There are two events in the South Okanagan.
The first took place in Osoyoos, where Mayor Sue McKortoff declared this ‘Restorative Justice Week’ in Osoyoos with an official proclamation signing last week.
Though the turnout Monday at the Sonora Community Centre was small, the message was important to hear – and understand.
In a nutshell, the program gets everyone involved – from the culprits, and their parents, to the victims, to the RCMP, to school administration, to a facilitator – in a round-table discussion. They talk about what took place, why the event took place, and what needs to be done to rectify the situation.
The entire scenario plays out in a short video, a screening of “Planting the Seeds”, a film produced by the BC RCMP on the Community Justice Forum. It’s the model of Restorative Justice utilized by the RCMP.
I encourage you to attend this presentation. You will appreciate the candid nature of the video, and gain a much-better understanding of why this program is successful.
As Cpl. Jason Bayda of the Osoyoos Detachment of the RCMP told me during the proclamation signing, “I’ve found a lot of positives that Restorative Justice can bring to a person, especially to those who are not normally involved in crime. If you can catch them early, you can turn their life around and get them out of the justice system before they get entrenched in it. It’s important for the Community to know it’s available, and it really does work. It’s a tried and proven method.”
The second event is set for Wednesday, Nov. 23 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at the Oliver Branch of the Okanagan Regional Library.
I asked Mark Provencal, Community Policing Coordinator with Restorative Justice and Community Partnerships, to provide details which will encourage participation at the Oliver event.
“The presentation provides a great opportunity for people to learn about the program, see an example of how it works, and consider how it could make a difference in their own lives. Restorative Practices encourage persons who caused harm to accept responsibility and take ownership of their role in a harm in the community, while giving the persons harmed an opportunity to ask questions and find an understanding of why the harm came about. At a time where people are noticing a decrease in genuine (human) connection, the Restorative Justice program is seeking to bring people back together to connect, and find understanding, in otherwise unlikely circumstances. Restorative Justice can not only provide a mediated resolution to a harm in the community, but can serve to strengthen the underlying fabric of our communities by offering that opportunity for connection and understanding amongst people that are brought together in less than ideal circumstances. Even if the connection is only of a limited duration, the process can go a long way in teaching people about how far the consequences of their action can extend, and the connection within the community can go a long way in teaching empathy and understanding no matter where the people are coming from.”
Everyone is invited to attend the Restorative Justice presentation Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. at the Oliver Library.