Many RJ practitioners are based in the lower mainland. For example, the LSLAP program operating out of UBC offers free legal counsel in the Vancouver area with a strong basis in restorative justice thinking. Much good work in the restorative justice field continues to be done in and around the Province’s largest city.
However, interior B.C. is beginning to take a leading role in the restorative justice movement. The John Howard Society in particular has developed a very strong program in the Central Okanagan region. The program diverts criminal matters from the court system to a restorative justice forum:
The Restorative Justice program of the John Howard Society provides an alternative to the criminal justice system for individuals who have caused harm in their community. The program accomplishes this by providing a facilitated meeting where the person who caused harm and those impacted can meet and collaboratively create a contract, or resolution agreement, to repair the harm.
The program has posted good results but remains heavily dependent upon volunteers (both lawyers and members of the public). If you’re interested in making a difference or learning more about restorative justice, this would be a good place to start.
The John Howard program started in 2005 and, since opening, has been working to adapt a restorative approach focused on community healing, to the particular needs of the Central Okanagan community served by the program. The program now accepts referrals from the RCMP, ICBC, Community Corrections as well as individuals and leaders in the local community.
Volunteering with the John Howard Restorative Justice program is a chance to become part of the healing process, learn new skills and contribute back to a very strong legal community in the Kelowna area. Ongoing research is orientated towards community as well as individual outcomes and achieving measurable improvements over conventional approaches.