Restorative justice in British Columbia owes its establishment and evolution to the knowledge and wisdom traditions of Indigenous peoples across BC, and beyond; faith-based peacemaking traditions including the Mennonite tradition; and the visionary leadership of criminologists, community advocates, legal professionals, students, victims’ advocates, and those directly impacted by crime, harm and justice.
Contemporary restorative justice programs have been operational in BC since the 1980s. Over the years, regional associations and informal networks of programs and practitioners have emerged in the Okanagan, Kootenay, Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland, and the Interior.
In 2014, community-based restorative justice providers convened a series of visioning sessions with stakeholders across the province. Two major outcomes were achieved in these sessions:
- The creation of recommended province-wide program standards for restorative justice, with an emphasis on providing safe and responsive programming for crime victims/survivors (the resulting document can be found here).
- The decision to create a provincial body to support, strengthen and expand the work of restorative justice in BC.
In 2016, a Restorative Justice Provincial Steering Committee was established, with the specific task to form a not-for-profit association under the BC Societies Act. Over the coming year, the steering committee took preliminary steps to establish a provincial restorative justice association by drafting a mission, vision statement, and goals as well as a constitution and bylaws.
In 2018, the Restorative Justice Association of BC (RJABC) was officially registered and approved as a not-for-profit society by the Province of British Columbia.