The road to developing the Alberta Restorative Justice Association and began in 2005 and was initiated by the Government of Alberta in partnership with the Mediation and Restorative Justice Centre (MRJC). The original steering committee had a desire to create an Alberta-wide grassroots organization involving both individuals and agencies.
On November 18, 2006, 75 people from various parts of the province interested in Restorative Justice came together for a symposium. The final recommendations from this event indicated there was a strong desire among the participants to work co-operatively. The results and decisions from the symposium provided the impetus and framework to move forward to form a provincial umbrella organization.
In January 2007, Kevin Hood, Senior Manager for Crime Prevention and Restorative Justice Department, informed MRJC that $50 000 would be available for the development of a Provincial Restorative Justice body. He asked MRJC to facilitate the gathering of interested parties to develop a plan for this to happen.
Creating the Steering and Coordinating Committees
Participants from the 2006 November Symposium who had indicated their willingness to volunteer and carry out some of its recommendations were invited to attend meetings on April 3 and May 3 in Edmonton. This group made the following decisions:
- The group that met would become the Steering Committee for the Formation of a Provincial Restorative Justice body.
- Mediation and Restorative Justice Centre (MRJC) was appointed as the fiscal agent by the Steering Committee.
- A Coordinating Committee, a sub group of the Steering Committee, would be formed to carry out specific tasks to move the formation of a provincial body forward.
Six members of the Steering Committee volunteered to be part of the interim Coordinating Committee, including Eric Friesen ( Calgary John Howard Society), Jan Moran (Mediation and Restorative Justice Centre Edmonton, Tamie Perryment (Alberta Conflict Transformation Society, Edmonton), Bob Pike (Community Mediation Society of Southern Alberta, Lethbridge), Val Riewe (Safe & Caring Schools and Communities, Grande Prairie) and Sharon Seidler (Bridge Builders Conciliation Services Inc., Ft. McMurray).
After initial meetings, the following goals were established for the new Provincial Association.
The Provincial Restorative Justice Association will be considered successful when:
- A network among organizations and practitioners across the province has been established and a collaborative and co-operative relationships exist.
- Each organization has increased its capacity to deliver restorative justice programs delivered by well trained practitioners who have knowledge of best practices and conduct outcome-based evaluations.
- Restorative justice programs and resources are available and accessible across the province.
- Funding for Restorative Justice is sufficient and diversified and is sustainable over time.
- Restorative Justice is understood and valued in the broader community.