Federal funding provided to Dalhousie University Schulich School of Law to accelerate use of restorative justice in Canada
March 14, 2022 – Halifax, Nova Scotia – Department of Justice Canada
A fair justice system must be compassionate, accessible, and prioritize the safety and well-being of the victims, perpetrators and communities affected by crime. Expanding the use of restorative justice is an effective way to respond to crime, promote safer communities, increase access to justice, and help address the over-representation of marginalized people in the criminal justice system.
Today, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, joined by Member of Parliament for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, Darren Fisher, announced that the Government of Canada is providing financial support to the Restorative Research, Innovation and Education Lab (Restorative Lab) at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University, to accelerate the development of restorative justice across Canada. The institution has received $644,508 in funding over four fiscal years starting in 2019 through the federal Justice Partnership and Innovation Program.
Using this funding, the Schulich School of Law’s Restorative Lab, through its National Restorative Justice Acceleration & Innovation Initiative, is working collaboratively with all levels of government and other stakeholders towards a robust national strategy to accelerate and sustain the development and implementation of restorative approaches in our justice system by means of research, innovation, education, and capacity building.
Funds will be dedicated to planning and hosting a national collaborative learning conference on restorative justice that will help mobilize key partners to share knowledge, expertise, and experience about the growth of restorative justice in Canada. These dynamic conversations will help build relationships, collaboration, structure, and commitment to support the development of innovative approaches, with the ultimate goal of improving lives for people and communities.
The Initiative is also undertaking an innovation incubator to develop a restorative approach to address the harmful impacts of multi justice interventions on individuals and families affected by family violence. This incubator supports inter-jurisdictional and multi-sectoral collaboration to improve access to meaningful justice.
Dalhousie University is home to the oldest school of common law in Canada. The Restorative Research, Innovation and Education Lab, is a private and public partnership hosted at the Schulich School of Law, which serves as a center of excellence for social innovation through a restorative approach.
“Restorative justice approaches are an essential component of a fairer, more inclusive justice system. They enable access to community-based and culturally responsive justice mechanisms. The funding we are announcing will help the Schulich School of Law accelerate the use of restorative justice across the country.”
The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
“We are proud of the work the Restorative Research, Innovation and Education Lab has undertaken and look forward to seeing more of its work on restorative justice. By building dynamic learning communities, the Schulich School of Law can mobilize partners and stakeholders, leading to transformational change in our justice system from which all Canadians can benefit.”
Member of Parliament for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour
“This initiative provides vital support for collaborative work across governments and systems to realize the potential of a restorative justice approach to transform systems in order to better meet the needs of individuals, families and communities. This is timely and urgent work as we must answer calls to address systemic injustices and meet the challenges of COVID-19 recovery.”
Professor Jennifer Llewellyn
Director, Restorative Research, Innovation and Education Lab
“Developing partnerships and collaborations that advance innovations in justice is a key priority for the Schulich School of Law. It is in line with our mission and values as advocates who believe we can make a difference in the service of human and policy problems, and with Dalhousie’s commitments as a civic university to social, intellectual, and technological partnerships designed to support our communities.”
Dean of Law, Schulich School of Law
Restorative justice has been used in the criminal justice system for over 40 years. It is built on the belief that crime causes harm to people, relationships, and communities and that those who have caused that harm have the responsibility to repair it.
Restorative justice programs work to connect both victims and offenders to existing services to support their needs. This could include counseling, addictions treatment, mental health programs, and victim services. Restorative Justice has been proven to be an effective response to crime and contributes to a criminal justice system that is accessible, compassionate and fair, and promotes the safety and well-being of Canadians.
Indigenous legal traditions, which have been used by Indigenous peoples for thousands of years to resolve disputes have informed many restorative justice programs in Canada. Practices and approaches that are based on restorative justice principles can have a positive impact in addressing systemic racism and the over-representation of Indigenous peoples in the criminal justice system.
The Justice Partnership and Innovation Program (JPIP) supports activities that contribute to increasing access to the Canadian justice system and that respond effectively to the changing conditions affecting Canadian justice policy, including reforms to the justice systems and improvements to the delivery of justice services.
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Minister of Justice
Department of Justice Canada
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