British Columbia is home to a rich collection of community-based, Indigenous, Municipal, Provincial, and Federal programs.  These programs work with police, Crown counsel, schools, universities, correctional institutions and BC communities to support and facilitate restorative responses to a range of matters.

Restorative justice approaches in BC can be accessed prior (or as an alternative) to, during, and after the criminal justice process, depending on resources available at your location and the circumstances of the crime. Restorative justice can also assist in cases that are not reported to the police or in non-criminal incidents such as harm or conflict that occurs in within families or neighborhoods and in schools or workplaces.

Here are some examples of restorative initiatives in BC that are offered outside and in relation to the legal system.

Non-profit Restorative Justice Programs

Most restorative justice services in BC are offered by non-profit programs, which rely heavily on volunteer resources, with some support from provincial, municipal and private funds. Models such as victim-offender dialogue, conferencing, circles or a hybrid of these are offered to participants. These cases are often diverted out of the criminal justice system to the BC Government’s Community Accountability Programs (CAP), though some programs have special arrangements to take on cases referred by Crown counsel after charges have been laid. Many non-profit programs operate as a part of  CAP.

RCMP Restorative Justice Programs

The RCMP has a long history in supporting a specific conferencing model called the Community Justice Forum.  In some communities, RCMP volunteers and civilian staff facilitate these Forums.

Ministry of Child and Family Development Youth Justice Conferencing

The Youth Criminal Justice Act provides a framework allowing restorative justice processes to be used at any stage of the Youth Justice system.  Community Youth Justice Services strives to provide a continuum of restorative justice practices to communities across BC.  Courts can order that a restorative approach be used at the pre-sentence, sentence or post-sentence stage. Most communities in BC have access to specially trained youth probation officers who can provide a full range of RJ approaches.   All youth probation officers are able to assist in the assessment of whether a restorative process is appropriate.  These processes brings together offenders, victims and community where, through a facilitated process, they are provided an opportunity for reparation, input and healing – not always afforded through traditional court processes.  Restorative processes include restorative conference, victim-offender mediation, healing circles, sentencing circles and more.

Indigenous Justice Programs

Indigenous Justice Programs are funded by the Department of Justice and Indigenous governments and offer culturally appropriate ways to address and prevent harm. Many of these programs offer restorative justice in the form of:

  • Peacemaking, healing or sentencing circles
  • Community justice committees
  • Elders’ councils
  • Diversion protocol
  • Conflict resolution
  • Mediation

Restorative Opportunities (RO) Program – operated by Correctional Service of Canada (CSC)

Restorative Opportunities is a Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) program that offers people who have been harmed by a federally-sentenced crime (one that carries a sentence of two years or more in prison) a chance to communicate, either directly or indirectly, with the offender who caused the harm. In BC, the program is administered by Fraser Region Community Justice Initiatives.

BC Conservation Officer Service

The Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy offers Community Environmental Justice Forums (CEJF) as an enforcement tool that applies the principles of restorative justice to the resolution of non-compliance committed by regulated parties under Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy legislation. By developing CEJFs, the ministry has adapted traditional restorative justice tools to create a unique process that is more suitable in dealing with regulated companies and complex environmental files.

Elementary & High School Programs

Several BC school districts have introduced restorative justice principles and practices within classrooms and school communities, both as a framework for building positive school cultures and as a response to conflict, harm and disciplinary issues. To learn more, contact the individual school’s administration office.

College & University Programs

There are several post-secondary institutions in the provinces that offer restorative justice responses to student misconduct and sexualized violence to students, faculty, and staff. To learn more, contact the Office of Student Affairs or equivalent.

Restorative justice options differ depending on the community you live in.