The restorative justice team that serves Oak Bay is doing things well, according to the province.
Restorative Justice Victoria, which covers Oak Bay, Victoria, Esquimalt and some work on the West Shore, earned the Restorative Justice Memorial Award during the province’s annual Community Safety and Crime Prevention Awards.
“It’s a valuable recognition I think because for one thing it’s nice the province is acknowledging the work being done by restorative justice programs. There hasn’t always been that recognition,” said Gillian Lindquist, executive director for RJV. “It’s nice that it’s coming from the province and they’re recognizing good restorative justice work out there in the community. Often you get lots of recognition from the community and your community partners, but it doesn’t feel like the province is paying attention.”
The Restorative Justice Memorial Award recognizes commitment to innovative partnerships that have advanced restorative justice.
“Our goal is to walk about and understand what happened,” Lindquist said “Usually that involves focusing on two things, how to heal the way people have been harmed. That focuses on the victim … but we do work around the offender and address how and why the offence happened in the first place.”
RJV supports those affected by crime through victim-offender conferencing, peace-making circles, victim-offender mediation and referrals to community services. Through years of research and program development, RJV has developed best practices – providing education to citizens; building partnerships with police, Crown counsel and the community; training facilitators and mentors; and developing and implementing an extensive evaluation program.
“What’s awesome about B.C. is it’s by the community for the community, and (the programs are) really responsive to their individual community’s needs,” she said.
Despite the best intentions, the individual community nature of B.C. restorative justice programs sometimes leaves a lack of consistent, quality programs with evaluations in place and reliance on research and evidence-based practices. The awards recognize the extra effort.
“They want programs to keep that grassroots feel and be responsive to their community but want to demonstrate they’re doing safe and valuable restorative justice practices,” Lindquist said.
The provincial awards acknowledge the efforts of volunteers, non-profit organizations and other local public safety partners that are integral to reducing crime, violence and victimization in the community and provide critical support to the efforts of law enforcement and others in the justice sector.
These efforts complement significant investments in the provincial Guns and Gangs Strategy, policing, community safety and victim services, which are supporting safer and stronger communities throughout B.C.
“Each individual and organization we’re honouring through Community Safety and Crime Prevention Awards has set a stellar example – engaging constructively in various ways to build community and help ensure the safety of young, marginalized and vulnerable people,” said Mike Morris, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “By sharing the stories of how much our award winners have done, I’m hopeful we’ll inspire other British Columbians to champion public safety causes in their regions and communities.”