About the pilot

The restorative justice pilot project is a court-annexed program with the goal of referring appropriate matters that are before the courts to a restorative justice process.

The first phase of the project will only involve criminal matters but it is hoped that later phases will expand restorative practices into family and civil matters as well.

For the criminal pilot project, the Committee has agreed upon a set of referral guidelines to provide some context to justice system participants about what restorative justice is, some of its benefits, and how referrals can be made. In a nutshell, any individual charged with a criminal offence who accepts responsibility for the harm caused, may be eligible for a referral to a restorative justice process. This could occur at any point from post-charge to pre-trial so long as all participants agree to engage in the process of their own free will and certain conditions are met.

The Committee organizing this project include judges from the Court of Queen’s Bench and Provincial Court, crown prosecutors, defense counsel, Indigenous groups, victims’ rights groups, restorative justice practitioners, policing agencies, and many other stakeholders in the community.

Why this initiative was started

Indigenous wisdom, restorative practices, and traditional law have been used for centuries to effectively address harm caused by crime by integrating a holistic and communal approach. It is the intent of this pilot project to learn from and honour these traditional values, more recently referred to as restorative justice, and meaningfully incorporate them in today’s criminal justice system.

This approach to crime involves a recognition that there are multiple pathways to justice and that justice is defined in different ways for different people. Studies of other jurisdictions that have incorporated restorative justice into their justice system report timely access to justice, increased satisfaction with the outcomes, lower rates of recidivism, and cost savings to the judicial system overall.