SFU program exemplifies Restorative Justice Week
Julie Czeck (left) and Kim Riddell (right). Czeck is a program coordinator
at the Abbotsford Restorative Justice and Advocacy Association.
Riddell, who is completing SFU Continuing Studies' online Certificate in
Restorative Justice, volunteers with the association. Submitted photo.
By Amy Robertson
This week, Correctional Service Canada is asking Canadians to celebrate an approach to conflict resolution that SFU has been advocating for years: restorative justice.
Restorative Justice Week 2012, taking place from November 19 to 25 across the country, is an opportunity for individuals and community groups to celebrate and raise awareness about restorative justice, a community-minded approach to justice that focuses on restoration and responsibility rather than punishment.
Created in partnership with SFU’s Centre for Restorative Justice, SFU Continuing Studies’ Restorative Justice Certificate launched in 2010. Originally, it was designed for Salvation Army officers, but it is now open to the public.
According to the program’s instructor, Dr. Joao Salm, “It gives [students] the knowledge to not only perceive and solve conflict within their families, their workspaces, the public in general, and their communities, but it also allows them to have the knowledge to transform these spaces.”
Student, volunteer sees the humanity in offenders
Kim Riddell, a social worker in the Vancouver area who began SFU’s online program in January 2012, has seen the power of restorative justice first-hand.
She spent years working with sex offenders to help them integrate back into the community after serving their sentences. She always saw their humanity ad believed they’re much more than “bad” people—they’re hurt people who need to heal.
“You get to see a different side to people than you read about in the paper,” she said. “I’ve almost never had anyone be rude to me.” The key, she says, in mutual respect.
As a volunteer at the Abbotsford Restorative Justice and Advocacy Association, she’s a regular advocate for working to restore the relationships between offenders and the community—and for changing attitudes about offenders.
“We’ve got a long way to go,” she said.
Riddell acknowledges that the process can be difficult—sometimes even more difficult than going to court. But in her opinion, it’s well worth it.
“To see victims go from ‘eye for an eye’ to really understanding where a person has come from—it’s just been so rewarding and made me such an advocate for this process.”
Restorative Justice Week 2012 at a glance
The theme for Restorative Justice Week 2012, which is taking place from November 18 to 25, 2012, is “Diverse Needs; Unique Responses.” This theme acknowledges that restorative justice is an approach that addresses the needs of different parties affected by wrongdoing.
To celebrate Restorative Justice Week, Correctional Service Canada is encouraging communities, including faith groups, to recognize the week, organize events, share resources, support the National Restorative Justice Symposium, and share information about events taking place across Canada.