Katelyn Lucas – Executive Director
Phone number: (403) 969-1096

Are you currently taking referrals to your RJ programs/service from the criminal justice system?
Yes, primarily from Calgary Indigenous Court, however other court programs have referred to the program.

For how many years have you done so?
As of September we have been in operation for 3 years.

Geographic Area Served – what location(s) do you currently serve? From where are you willing to take referrals?
Calgary, Siksika, Lethbridge, Kainai, Piikani, Tsuut’ina and Stoney Nakoda

Age limitations – Do you serve youth, adults or both?
18+ primarily, however we have worked on a referral basis with some youth.

Service Provision Restrictions – As per your agency mandate. (E.g. participants must be a member of a particular FNM community; participants must be Indigenous; participants must by referred with the involvement of a Victim Services Unit, etc.) –
There are no demographic restrictions. We serve all Indigenous peoples urban, FN, MN, and Inuit. The important factor is their motivation to engage. At times, we have had people not ready, but return independently to participate as they recognize the value for their own healing. At times, we have had people that require stabilization if in active addiction for example, and then return after treatment is completed.

Types of referrals accepted (what types of charges does your agency currently have experience with or expertise in adjudicating through Restorative Justice? If you are an independent service provider, where does your expertise lie in taking CJS referrals? What criminal justice matters are your agency currently able to address through your Restorative Justice program.)

Referrals have been coming from defence counsel, judges, community agencies of the case management table, Gladue writers and organizations on first nation communities. At this time, we have had individuals with both summary and indictable offenses. While we have not typically had individuals with severe charges due to the majority coming from Calgary Indigenous Court, there have been a few which have left the court and been referred prior to being moved out of the court for trial. In some cases, their involvement has significantly reduced the dispositions even outside of Indigenous Court. Our Coordinator has over 20 years of experience in the criminal justice sector as a previous probation officer and supervisor.

Has you or your agency ever dealt with, and have training and experience with adjudicating, more serious charges? If yes, please describe.

I would say that we have worked with individuals in the criminal justice system for 57 years with all types of charges both remanded, provincially and federally incarcerated or facing sentences on serious charges. However, given my above response, I would say that the program is not typically addressing individuals who are doing significant federal time, unless their lawyer feels their participation may adapt the outcome of their disposition. The nature of Indigenous court is not trial based, therefore those who are requesting trial are more likely to address their matters in another court and at times have been returned for sentencing. Therefore, if the individual is not incarcerated and is on bail in the community until their trial, we would work with them within Soksipaitapiisin.

Do you require victim participation?
Not specifically, however often the healing plans of the participants of Soksipaitapiisin have components that support victim/offender medication including referrals to peacemaking. Ultimately the goal of the program is to advance Siim Ohksin – Wahkotiwin (Blackfoot and Cree for natural law) pertaining to restoring balance and harmony in community, which in essence results from taking accountability and responsibility for one’s actions that caused harm. At the case management table, we include Homefront, which inputs on their recommendations for the offender to address the needs of domestic victims. Overall, through the restorative process, participants do make amends in some capacity as they pursue their individual healing, support better relationships within their families and communities. Victims needs are considered as the Elders address recommendations which effectively address the “accountability” of their actions along with those that are meant to strengthen their own healing path, which ultimately has an effect on their capacity to restore the relationships that were harmed by their criminalization.

What is your administrative process for handling referrals? What can the referrer expect when they make a referral to you?

What forms are required? There is a referral form that is sent to our Soksipaitapiisin Coordinator who sends the referral to our intake worker for scheduling an intake. The intake once completed is sent to the case manager who works with the participant throughout the duration of their time in the program. Individuals who cannot be reached after multiple attempts, referrals are returned to the lawyer or referral source to have further conversations with their clients or to update contact information. Any individuals withdrawn at intake can return to the program at any time, with or without a formal referral. Participation is voluntary therefore no one is forced to participate, if they do not feel the restorative approach is something they wish to pursue.

What is communicated to the referrer re: the length of time to adjudicate your RJ processes? And are there any other information that is regularly communicated back to the referrer regarding the case through the process?
Typically, once an individual is referred, they can be intake within 1-2 weeks depending on whether the individual is reachable or accountable to the process. The Coordinator will communicate issues with the referral source to either provide proper contact information or to determine if their client wants to participate.

What information and in what format is reported back to the referrer once the case is closed?
An email, or phone call is provided if the referral source would like to continue pursuing the referral. Additionally, if individuals are withdrawn post intake, similar process is in action, although the Case Management Table provides feedback and direction on whether to continue trying or to connect with referral source for withdrawal. Ultimately, files are closed after the courts determine to a) move them into another court system, b) close the file for further stabilization for addictions or mental health, and c) legal counsel has no contact with their client. Ultimately, multiple chances and strategies are conducted to support individuals through the process even when they are struggling.

What is your capacity to take on additional referrals, should they come your way because of these new referral guidelines.
We do have capacity currently and are currently looking for further funding to hire additional staff to expand the numbers we provide. We have a pretty solid system which allows us to have options to balance case loads, and work with individuals who have struggles with different approaches to stabilize their circumstances.

Do you use volunteers, paid staff, or a combination of both in facilitation of RJ services?
The program is paid staff, Elders who are provided honorariums, and a collaboration with community service providers at our Case Management Table.

What training do you mandate for your Restorative Justice facilitators, elders, etc.?
Extensive. We expect individuals to have a foundation in justice, primarily only hire Indigenous, and have developed a comprehensive training program and tools which provide us with a tight program. Elders are the foundation of the program and in fact were responsible for its initial development and the ongoing expectations from a cultural perspective. Our Elders have a comprehensive understanding of justice, domestic violence, addictions and mental health.