The following provides a partial timeline of milestones and collection resources related to the development of RJ in BC. This content is based on scholarly work by Chatterjee & Elliott (2003), Abramson (2016), & Asadullah (2020) and others
1982 – First formal Victim Offender Reconciliation case in BC
Langley Mennonite Fellowship provided funding support for the first formal VORP case in BC
1985 – First non-profit RJ program established
Fraser Region Community Justice Initiatives was formed as the first non-profit organization offering restorative justice options.
1991 – National Aboriginal Justice Strategy is created
The strategy has played an important role in supporting the development of Aboriginal justice programs, many of which use traditional justice approaches that can be consistent with restorative justice.
1995 – The first Community Justice Forum project is initiated in Sparwood by the RCMP
Details on history of RJ and policing in Canada can be found here.
1997 – RCMP offers first three-day Community Justice Forum training to police and citizens
This model is based on police-led conferencing in Australia and training was offered by Corporal Jim Cooley (now retired) and other civilian trainers.
1996 – Restorative sentencing goals are added to the Criminal Code of Canada
1998 – Government of BC Community Accountability Program (CAP)
Former Attorney General, Ujjal Dosanjh, helped found the CAP initiative which provided seed funding to community groups that wanted to offer restorative justice options
1999 – Rv. Gladue decision
The Supreme Court of Canada case R. v. Gladue established that when determining sentencing, judges must consider the unique and systemic factors that may have brought the Indigenous person in front of the court. If these factors are present, they mitigate or reduce culpability; therefore, judges must consider all reasonable alternatives to jail. The Gladue decision recognized restorative justice as a legitimate approach to sentencing. View the Gladue Report Guide
1999 – Ron Wiebe Restorative Justice Award is established
The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) announced the creation of this award in honour of the late Ron Wiebe, former Warden of Ferndale and Elbow Lake Correctional Institutions, who was terminally ill with cancer and who passed away July, 1999. The final award was given to Barbara Tomporoski in 2018
2002 – Simon Fraser University establishes the Centre for Restorative Justice
2002 – First undergraduate restorative justice course is established
Dr. Liz Elliott in collaboration with Larry Moore, Cathie Douglas and Dr. Karlene Faith developed an undergraduate course in restorative justice offered to criminology and non-criminology students at Simon Fraser University
2003 – A Healing River film is produced
Heartspeak Productions and SFU created an educational film about the values and principles of restorative justice called, “A Healing River.” This film was widely distributed and funded by the National Crime Prevention Centre and the Community Programs Division of the Attorney General. Many other resources can be found on their Youtube channel
2003 – FAVOR (Ferndale Advocates for Victim Offender Reconciliation) is initiated at Mission Minimum Institution
FAVOR group is comprised of weekly circle discussions with prisoners and community members about restorative justice and related topics
2003 – The Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) is passed
This federal legislation governs youth justice matters and provides more options for police, judges and other justice professionals to refer matters for restorative justice responses. Youth probation officers called Conferencing Specialists employed by the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) were trained to facilitate restorative justice processes referred by the court through extrajudicial sanctions. View the Government of Canada Youth Justice Act website
2009 – Restorative Practices International Conference is held in Vancouver, British Columbia
Around 300 participants from all over the world gathered to share their experiences in using restorative justice practices to deal with crime and conflict in their communities. Although restorative justice has its roots in many Indigenous justice practices, the widespread use of these non-punitive models is a relatively new phenomenon in contemporary societies. Academics and practitioners from South Africa, Australia, United States, and New Zealand who advocate for restorative justice had a strong presence at the conference and ground-breaking Canadian work was showcased.
2010 – BC Conservation Officer Service introduces Community Justice Forums
2011 – National Restorative Justice Symposium – Re-visioning Justice held in Kamloops, BC
2012 – Liz Elliott Hummingbird Award is established
Dr. Liz Elliott was honoured by Simon Fraser University with the creation of the Hummingbird Awards, which are presented at the annual Liz Elliot Memorial Lecture during Restorative Justice Week every November. The awards are offered across the province, and are to students who engage communities, research, and in critical thinking in the area of restorative justice. Read the article
2012 – BC’s Justice Reform
This project, headed by the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, led to the publication of a number of reports supporting the expanded use of restorative justice including in more serious cases.
2013 – 1st Annual Justice Summit
These gatherings, by invitation of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, encourage innovation and facilitate collaboration across the sector. The summit is a forum for frank discussion between justice sector leaders about how the system is performing and how it can be improved. Restorative justice has been discussed many times over the years and is mentioned in several past reports. View the report
2014 – Co-training event between Restorative Justice and Police-Based Victim’s Services
“Building Relationships: Police Based Victim Services and Restorative Justice Groups Serving Victims Together” and took place in Vancouver. Guest speakers and interactive events were funded by the Ministry of Public Safety & Emergency Services
2014 – Ministry of Public Safety & Emergency Services establishes a Restorative Justice category for Community Safety & Crime Prevention Awards.
Each year the ministry recognizes individuals, groups and programs that have made outstanding contributions to crime prevention and community safety. The awards are announced during Crime Prevention Week, held during the first week of November. In 2014, the ministry added a category to acknowledge contributions in the area of restorative justice. This was a tribute to Dr. Liz Elliott who passed away in 2011. View the release
2015 – BC’s Blue Ribbon Panel On Crime Reduction is formed
This panel aimed to identify ways to develop province-wide crime-reduction strategies which resulted in a report titled, “Getting Serious about Crime Reduction: report of the blue ribbon panel on crime reduction.” Recommendations for the provincial government included increasing the capacity and support for restorative justice.
The Blue Ribbon panel also concluded Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) 34 and other key stakeholders are in favour of restorative justice and recommended the federal government, provincial government along with municipalities need to work together to expand the use of restorative justice in BC. Read the report
2015 – RCMP “E” Division Review of RCMP Role in Restorative justice
The RCMP “E” Division completed a comprehensive review of their role in relation to restorative justice in BC.
2016 – Victims Bill of Rights passes in the House of Commons
This bill included a section in support of providing information about restorative justice to victims of crime. Section 6(b) Victims Bill of Rights
2016 – BC Justice Reform follow-up advocates restorative justice expansion
A follow-up report on justice reform strongly advocated for the expansion of the use of diversion and restorative justice as complementary to the justice system.
2016 – RCMP releases Project Blueprint
The RCMP “E” Division provides a document to help enhance relationships between RCMP and restorative justice organizations in BC.
2016 – First advanced Restorative Justice Fellowship
The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General funded training workshops for two learning cohorts from two regions accessible to representatives of selected Aboriginal Justice Strategy and Community Accountability Programs in BC.
2016 –Recommended Principles and Standards for Restorative Justice in Criminal Matters is released
With funding from the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, community agencies and practitioners from across BC work together to develop of shared practice standards within the field of Restorative Justice. The document was the initial breakthrough in the development of Restorative Justice practitioner standards and improved relationships with participants and victims in BC.
2017 – Community Accountability Program Conference in Vancouver, BC
2017 – Position paper published by the Canadian Bar Association of BC
This report recommends the expanded use of restorative justice
2017 – The Office of the Federal Ombudsperson for Victims of Crime releases a report “Restorative Justice: Getting fair outcomes for victims in Canada’s criminal justice system”
Read the report
2017 – Mike Farnworth, Solicitor General and Minister of Public Safety, announces intentions to make province-wide restorative justice a priority
Read the announcement
2018 – Indigenous Justice Program Association formed
2018 – More than eighty community-based restorative justice programs, including thirty-four for Indigenous peoples, are operating in BC
2019 – First annual Widening the Lens Symposium
The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General provided funding for this symposium which is an informational and interactive gathering to support the development and growth of restorative justice in responding to issues related to equity, diversity, and inclusion.