Newfoundland and Labrador ministers of Education and Early Childhood Development, and Justice and Public Safety marked National Restorative Justice Week November 20-27 with an inaugural proclamation signing in St. John's at an event hosted by Relationships First: Restorative Justice in Education Consortium of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Dale Kirby, minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, and Andrew Parsons, minister of Justice and Public Safety, signed the proclamation on behalf of the Province.
Restorative Justice Week is held in Canada and in many countries around the world.
"Restorative justice is not a new concept," said Dorothy Vaandering, Faculty of Education professor and consortium director. "We owe an immense debt of gratitude to aboriginal cultures for keeping restorative justice alive so that we can realize how it not only helps to address situations of serious harm, but also provides guidance for difficult conversations, and nurtures relational rather than individualistic cultures."
The theme of this year's Restorative Justice Week Inspiring Innovation, celebrates how restorative justice touches all sectors of society in unique ways.
For example, Dr. Vaandering pointed out that in 2015 Dalhousie University dentistry students chose a restorative justice process to resolve the fallout from harmful comments about female students that some male students posted online to a Facebook group.
"Along with communities across the country, we hope to increase awareness of how restorative justice can support stronger healthier relationships in our province's communities and organizations," she said.
For the past three years, educators involved in the Relationships First consortium are using restorative justice approaches in their classrooms and schools as a way to nurture healthy relationships amongst children, youth, and the adults that guide them, Dr. Vaandering said.
Consortium partners include: Memorial's Faculty of Education and Student Code Office, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, The Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association, the English School District of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women, St. Bonaventure's College, the Coalition Against Violence – Avalon East, and Thrive, the Community Youth Network, St. John's.